Let Us Descend

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THE BOOKS IN 3-B DECEMBER BOOK CLUB SELECTION.

OPRAH'S BOOK CLUB PICK - Instant New York Times Bestseller - Shortlisted for the 2024 Carnegie Medal for Excellence

From Jesmyn Ward--the two-time National Book Award winner, youngest winner of the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, and MacArthur Fellow--comes a haunting masterpiece, sure to be an instant classic, about an enslaved girl in the years before the Civil War.

"'Let us descend, ' the poet now began, 'and enter this blind world.'" --Inferno, Dante Alighieri

Let Us Descend is a reimagining of American slavery, as beautifully rendered as it is heart-wrenching. Searching, harrowing, replete with transcendent love, the novel is a journey from the rice fields of the Carolinas to the slave markets of New Orleans and into the fearsome heart of a Louisiana sugar plantation.

Annis, sold south by the white enslaver who fathered her, is the reader's guide through this hellscape. As she struggles through the miles-long march, Annis turns inward, seeking comfort from memories of her mother and stories of her African warrior grandmother. Throughout, she opens herself to a world beyond this world, one teeming with spirits: of earth and water, of myth and history; spirits who nurture and give, and those who manipulate and take. While Ward leads readers through the descent, this, her fourth novel, is ultimately a story of rebirth and reclamation.

From one of the most singularly brilliant and beloved writers of her generation, this miracle of a novel inscribes Black American grief and joy into the very land--the rich but unforgiving forests, swamps, and rivers of the American South. Let Us Descend is Jesmyn Ward's most magnificent novel yet, a masterwork for the ages.

About the Author

Jesmyn Ward received her MFA from the University of Michigan and has received the MacArthur Genius Grant, a Stegner Fellowship, a John and Renee Grisham Writers Residency, the Strauss Living Prize, and the 2022 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. She is the historic winner--first woman and first Black American--of two National Book Awards for Fiction for Sing, Unburied, Sing (2017) and Salvage the Bones (2011). She is also the author of the novel Where the Line Bleeds and the memoir Men We Reaped, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize and the Media for a Just Society Award. She is currently a professor of creative writing at Tulane University and lives in Mississippi.

Praise for Jesmyn Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing

"Ghosts, literal and literary, haunt nearly every page of Sing, Unburied, Sing -- a novel whose boundaries between the living and the dead shift constantly, like smoke or sand. Set on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, the book's Southern gothic aura recalls the dense, head-spinning prose of William Faulkner or Flannery O'Connor."
--Entertainment Weekly

"However eternal its concerns, Sing, Unburied, Sing, Ward's new book, is perfectly poised for the moment."
--The New York Times

"Staggering ... A furious brew with hints of Toni Morrison and Homer's The Odyssey."
--Boston Globe

"Sing, Unburied, Sing, which is longlisted for a 2017 National Book Award, establishes Ward as one of the most poetic writers in the conversation about America's unfinished business in the black South."
--The Atlantic

"Some chapters sound like fairy tales. This, and her ease with vernacular language, puts Ward in fellowship with such forebears as Zora Neale Hurston and William Faulkner."
--The New Yorker

"[A] tour de force ... Ward is an attentive and precise writer who dazzles with natural and supernatural observations and lyrical details ... she continues telling stories we need to hear with rare clarity and power."
--O, the Oprah Magazine

"Macabre and musical... Her lyrical language elevates desperation into poetic reverie ... a gripping and melodious indictment of modern racial injustices."
--Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"If William Faulkner mined the South for gothic, stream-of-consciousness tragedy, and Toni Morrison conjured magical realism from the corroding power of the region's race hatred, then Ward is a worthy heir to both."
--The Dallas Morning News

Publisher: Scribner Book Company
Pub date:
Length:
320 pages
Format: Hardcover