The Columns

Annual Tom Wolfe Lecture/Seminar Features Award-winning Novelist Jesmyn Ward

— by on April 10th, 2015

Award-winning novelist Jesmyn Ward, the Paul and Debra Gibbons Professor of Creative Writing at Tulane University, will present the keynote address at Washington and Lee University’s annual Tom Wolfe Weekend Seminar, “Memory and Imagination: Salvaging the News in ‘Salvage the Bones’ ” on April 10, at 4:00 p.m. in Lee Chapel.

The title of Ward’s talk, which is free and open to the public, is “Memory and Imagination in ‘Salvage the Bones.’ “

Ward’s novel “Salvage the Bones” won the 2011 National Award for Fiction and was honored with the American Library Association’s Alex Award. Her work has been called “fearless and toughly lyrical” by The Library Journal.

Other works by Ward include her much-admired first novel, “Where the Line Bleed,” and a recent memoir, “Men We Reaped,” for which she won the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award.

For Ward, her prose is personal. All three of her books, two novels and a memoir, are set on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, where she grew up. Her portrayals of young black men and women struggling to thrive in poverty-ravaged South during the time of natural disasters have been praised for their “graphic clarity” by The Boston Globe and “hugeness of heart” by O: The Oprah Magazine.

Set in the 12 days immediately after the arrival of Hurricane Katrina, “Salvage the Bones” is the story of four motherless children trying to protect their home and one another against unimaginable disruption. Drawing on her own experiences as a survivor of Katrina, Ward offers a troubling but ultimately empowering tale of familial bonds in the face of overwhelming circumstances.

Ward received her Ph.D. at Stanford and her M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Michigan. She won five Hopwood Awards at Michigan for her fiction, essays and drama. She held a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University from 2008-2010, and served as the Grisham writer in residence at the University of Mississippi the following year.

Ward received the Virginia Commonwealth University Cabell First Novelist Award for “Where the Line Bleeds,” which was also a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and an Essence magazine Book Club Selection. It was also honored by the Black Caucus of the National Book Award.

The annual Tom Wolfe Weekend Seminar is sponsored by Washington and Lee’s Class of 1951 in honor of its classmate Tom Wolfe, who will be in attendance and will offer remarks during the weekend.

Additional details are available at http://www.wlu.edu/special-programs/alumni-college/campus-programs/the-tom-wolfe-weekend-seminar.

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