She walked quietly to the podium barely occupying her small frame. The audience was silent, eagerly awaiting words of wisdom and inspiration.
I was taken by the lyrical string of words that flowed from her mouth. She told a story that was so impacting, visceral and poignant. I sat there entranced by the setting consisting of dusty roads, singing cicadas and unabashed strolling possums. It felt kinda familiar and imagined all at once. Familiar because she was describing rural Mississippi and concocted thoughts because the time seemed so far removed.
She was a skilled soprano opera singer holding notes so eloquently, methodically pacing, weaving intricate webs of intrigue til at last, you would have given anything to hear the climax.
When she finished the reading, the crowd applauded and sat quitely in pensive mood. Finally, one brave person broke the silence and began a great question and answer session.
Men We Reaped is about how social/racial injustice and poverty negatively impact our world. The statistics are staggering and the story is dismal but hope is placed in the hands of the reader.
Quotes from the author :
“This was the hardest thing I’ve ever written.”
“I knew I had to tell the truth but I had to decide how much of the truth I was willing to tell.”
“Men We Reaped” has always been the title. I started out with it and it stuck. I extracted the title from a Harriet Tubman quote I came across while researching inspiration for a title.”
“It’s not therapeutic to have to stand before people and recount the stories and deaths of my friends; it’s something I must do.”
“There was not one message I wanted to convey in this book. Whatever positive meaning you receive is okay with me.”
Jesmyn Ward won the 2011 National Book Award for Fiction and the Alex Award with her second novel, “Salvage the Bones.”