Book 43: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Everyone loves Jesmyn Ward’s new novel. Readers love it, critics love it, authors love it. Which makes me wonder what’s wrong with me.

It’s a handsomely-written modern take on the southern gothic ghost story but I find the universal fawning adulation a mite mystifying.

Leonie is a young black mother with a drug problem; Jojo her sensitive 13-year-old son. Together with Jojo’s younger sister Kayla they set off to pick up Leonie’s partner Michael from prison –¬†each of them haunted by the past, figuratively and literally.

Its a family drama and a road novel and it has plenty to say: about race, poverty, drugs, prison and parenting. It’s relentlessly depressing, in other words, but for me lacked the power and pathos of a comparable novel like Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad.

I understand why modern American literature is so consumed with racial politics – but that doesn’t make it any less exhausting for the reader.

Author: adamgartrell

Political journalist drowning in books

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s