Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
This is the second National Book Award for Fiction win for Jesmyn Ward; her first being The Salvage the Bones in 2011. Both novels are set in the fictional town of Bois Sauvage (wild or savage woods), Mississippi. Sing, Unburied, Sing begins with the slaughter of a goat, which sets the tone for the novel. Much of the story is narrated through the voice of Jojo, who lives with his addict mother Leonie, his baby sister Kayla, and his grandparents, Mam and Pop. His white father, Michael, is in prison for drug offenses, but on Jojo's 13th birthday the family gets a call to let them know Michael is getting out. Their quest begins when Jojo and Kayla drive to the prison to pick up Michael. It is a sad, but all too common story, and Jesmyn West shares it in an interesting, lyrical way. In her acceptance speech, Ward said, “To those who asked what they they could possibly have in common with her characters, "you answered, 'Plenty,' “she told the other authors, editors and booksellers assembled in the room. "You looked at me, at the people I love and write about, you looked at my poor, my black, my Southern children, women and men — and you saw yourself. You saw your grief, your love, your losses, your regrets, your joy, your hope."