Men We Reaped: A Memoir

Overview

Universally praised, Jesmyn Ward’s Men We Reaped confirmed her ascendancy as a writer of both fiction and nonfiction, her Southern requiem securing its place on bestseller and best books of the year lists, with honors and awards pouring in from around the country.

Jesmyn’s memoir shines a light on the community she comes from, in the small town of DeLisle, Mississippi, a place of quiet beauty and fierce attachment. Here, in the space of four years, she lost five young men dear ...

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Men We Reaped: A Memoir

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Overview

Universally praised, Jesmyn Ward’s Men We Reaped confirmed her ascendancy as a writer of both fiction and nonfiction, her Southern requiem securing its place on bestseller and best books of the year lists, with honors and awards pouring in from around the country.

Jesmyn’s memoir shines a light on the community she comes from, in the small town of DeLisle, Mississippi, a place of quiet beauty and fierce attachment. Here, in the space of four years, she lost five young men dear to her, including her beloved brother—lost to drugs, accidents, murder, and suicide. Their deaths were seemingly unconnected, yet their lives had been connected, by identity and place, and as Jesmyn dealt with these losses, she came to a staggering truth: These young men died because of who they were and the place they were from, because certain disadvantages breed a certain kind of bad luck. Because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle. The agonizing reality commanded Jesmyn to write, at last, their true stories and her own.

Men We Reaped opens up a parallel universe, yet it points to problems whose roots are woven into the soil under all our feet. This indispensable American memoir is destined to become a classic.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

It was the death of her 19-year-old brother at the hands of a drunken driver that inspired Jesmyn West to become a writer. Unfortunately, that spur was not the only tragic loss of a young black man from her Mississippi hometown that affected her life. In this insightful, beautifully written memoir, she pays poignant tribute to five "men we reaped." The first nonfiction work by the 2011 National Book Award winner.

From the Publisher
"An important, and perhaps even essential, book." —San Francisco Chronicle

"[Ward] chronicles our American story in language that is raw, beautiful and dangerous… [Her] singular voice and her full embrace of her anger and sorrow set this work apart from those that have trodden similar ground." —The New York Times Book Review

"Heart-wrenching… A brilliant book about beauty and death… at once a coming-of-age story and a kind of mourning song… filled [with] intimate and familial moments, each described with the passion and precision of the polished novelist Ward has become… Ward is one of those rare writers who’s traveled across America’s deepening class rift with her sense of truth intact." —Los Angeles Times

"A memoir that is as searing as her fiction, as poignant and as timely... in a country that is supposed to be post racial but still seems hell-bent on the epidemic destruction of young black men." —Edwidge Danticat, The Progressive

Library Journal
09/01/2013
National Book Award-winning novelist Ward (Salvage the Bones) recently mourned the death of five young men in four years. Accidents, drugs, or suicide claimed her brother, a cousin, and three friends. Her moving memoir details her relationships with the dead men and associates their deaths with the dismal existence experienced by many Southern black men. She explores how a history of racism, economic inequality, and lapsed personal responsibility continues to fester within portions of this population. As Ward details her loss and her family's life in Louisiana and Mississippi, she tries to understand why her brother died and digs deep within her heart and mind to discover why this is her story to tell. Through Ward's narrative, readers come to know her own struggles as the only black female in a private high school and as a budding writer finding her place in the world. VERDICT Ward's candid account is full of sadness and hope that takes readers out of their comfort zone and proves that education and hard work are the way up for the young and downtrodden. [See Prepub Alert, 3/11/13.]—Joyce Sparrow, Kenneth City, FL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781608197651
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 9/16/2014
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 598,932

Meet the Author

Jesmyn Ward received her M.F.A. from the University of Michigan and is currently an assistant professor of creative writing at Tulane University. She is the author of the novels Where the Line Bleeds and Salvage the Bones, the latter of which won the 2011 National Book Award and was a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Ward grew up in DeLisle, Mississippi, and lives there now.

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