The next meeting of Bernardsville Public Library’s book discussion group, Memoirs and Coffee, will be held on Tuesday, November 18 at 10:30 am in the library’s Community Room. Pat Kennedy-Grant, Readers’ Services Manager for the library, will lead the discussion of “Men We Reaped: A Memoir” (2013) by Jesmyn Ward. [The author will not be present.]
The book recounts how, in five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five young men in her life—to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made her ask the question: Why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth: Her brother and her friends all died because of who they were and where they were from, because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle that fostered drug addiction and the dissolution of family and relationships. Ms. Ward says the answer was so obvious she felt stupid for not seeing it. But it nagged at her until she knew she had to write about her community, to write their stories and her own.
Tayari Jones in The New York Times Book Review wrote of the book, "[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… With loving and vivid recollection, she returns flesh to the bones of statistics and slows her ghosts to live again… [It’s a] complicated and courageous testimony."
Jesmyn Ward grew up in DeLisle, Mississippi. She received her 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. She is the author of the novels "Where the Line Bleeds" and "Salvage the Bones," for which she won the 2011 National Book Award, and was a finalist for the NYPL Young Lions Literary Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, as well as a nominee for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
There is no charge and no registration is needed to join the discussion. Call the library at 766-0118 for more information.