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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

Review: Sing, Unburied, Sing

Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel - Jesmyn Ward

Often while I was reading Sing, Unburied, Sing, I had to hush my inner critic. Yes, Jesmyn Ward weaves some wonderful scenes and vivid sentences, but she really isn’t doing anything new. Yes, that climax is gut-wrenchingly affective, but it really isn’t anything that hasn’t been done before. It’s almost too easy to dismiss Sing, Unburied, Sing as just another book about a tormented family surviving racial injustice in the South, a setting that tends to invite ghosts (of which there are plenty here.) It’s easy to say that the narrative is nothing original and that the conclusion was powerful, but trite. Yes, I can just say, Jesmyn Ward isn’t doing anything new—she’s just carrying on the various traditions of Carson McCullers, Toni Morrison, William Faulkner, Alice Walker, John Steinbeck… Or I can say, “Damn, Jesmyn Ward is carrying on the tradition of Carson McCullers, Toni Morrison…John Steinbeck, and she’s doing a fabulous job of it!”