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May 1, 2012

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“There is something about living through Katrina and hardship that refines who people are, I think, that showcases their most essential selves. I hope that my fiction wrestles with Faulkner’s eternal question, ‘the problem of the human heart in conflict with itself,’ and that my work realizes the essential selves of my characters and those that live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”
--Jesmyn Ward

Jesmyn Ward’s National Book Award-winning novel, Salvage the Bones, explores a family’s struggle to find meaning in the days leading up to, and immediately following, Hurricane Katrina. Inspired by the author’s upbringing in a “mostly black, mostly poor, mostly uneducated community on the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” Salvage the Bones is an unflinching look at rural poverty, sacrifice, and the human condition in general, during a time of crisis. In conversation with Paul Holdengräber, Jesmyn Ward will discuss Salvage the Bones, as well as her broader interest in fiction grounded in life experience.
Jesmyn Ward grew up and continues to live in DeLisle, Mississippi. She received an MFA from the University of Michigan and has been a Stegner Fellow at Stanford and a Grisham Visiting Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi. She is currently an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of South Alabama. Her debut novel,Where the Line Bleeds, was an Essence Book Club selection, a Black Caucus of the ALA Honor Award recipient, and a finalist for both the Virginia Commonwealth University Cabell First Novelist Award and the Hurston/ Wright Legacy Award. Salvage The Bones, her second novel, is a finalist for the NYPL Young Lions Award, a finalist for the 2012 Indie Choice Award, and a winner of the ALA Alex Award. Salvage the Bones was also awarded the 2011 National Book Award in Fiction.

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