Jesmyn Ward on ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’

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In The New York Times Book Review, Tracy K. Smith, the U.S. poet laureate, reviews Jesmyn Ward’s new novel, “Sing, Unburied, Sing.” Smith writes:


For each of these characters, living or dead, what lies unasked or unspoken becomes an impediment not just to happiness or social mobility but to literal deliverance — and each must decide whether to rise to the occasion, whether to let what he or she harbors sound out. Maybe that’s the miracle here: that ordinary people whose lives have become so easy to classify into categories like rural poor, drug-dependent, products of the criminal justice system, possess the weight and the value of the mythic — and not only after death; that 13-year-olds like Jojo might be worthy of our rapt attention while their lives are just beginning.

On this week’s podcast, Ward discusses “Sing, Unburied, Sing”; David Dobbs on five new books about Darwin; Kristin Cashore talks about “Jane, Unlimited”; Alexandra Alter has news from the publishing world; and Gregory Cowles, Jennifer Szalai and John Williams on what people are reading. Pamela Paul is the host.

Here are the books mentioned in this week’s “What We’re Reading”:

“The Ginger Man” by J. P. Donleavy

“The Night in Question” by Tobias Wolff

“After the Tall Timber” by Renata Adler

“The Color of Law” by Richard Rothstein

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