Salvage the Bones A Novel

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2011-08-30
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
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A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch's father is growing concerned. A hard drinker, largely absent, he doesn't show concern for much else. Esch and her three brothers are stocking food, but there isn't much to save. Lately, Esch can't keep down what food she gets; she's fourteen and pregnant. Her brother Skeetah is sneaking scraps for his prized pitbull's new litter, dying one by one in the dirt. Meanwhile, brothers Randall and Junior try to stake their claim in a family long on child's play and short on parenting. As the twelve days that comprise the novel's framework yield to the final days, the unforgettable family at the novel's heart-motherless children sacrificing for each other as they can, protecting and nurturing where love is scarce-pulls itself up to face another day. A big-hearted novel about familial love and community against all odds and a wrenching look at the lonesome, brutal, and restrictive realities of rural poverty, Salvage the Bonesis muscled with poetry, revelatory, and real.

Author Biography

Jesmyn Ward grew up in DeLisle, Mississippi. She received her MFA from the University of Michigan, where she won five Hopwood Awards for essays, drama, and fiction. She 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. Her debut novel, Where the Line Bleeds, was an Essence Book Club selection, a Black Caucus of the ALA Honor Award recipient, and a finalist for both the Virginia Commonwealth University Cabell First Novelist Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.

Table of Contents

“The novel’s hugeness of heart and fierceness of family grip and hold on like [a] pit bull.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
"A pitch-perfect account of struggle and community in the rural South… Though the characters in Salvage the Bones face down Hurricane Katrina, the story isn’t really about the storm. It’s about people facing challenges, and how they band together to overcome adversity."BookPage
"Searing…. Despite the brutal world it depicts, Salvage the Bones is a beautiful read. Ward’s redolent prose conjures the magic and menace of the southern landscape."Dallas Morning News

"This book is impossibly beautiful."—OxfordAmerican.org

 "Ward uses fearless, toughly lyrical language to convey this family's close-knit tenderness, the sheer bloody-minded difficulty of rural African American life, and what it's like when those hurrican winds sledge-hammer you and the water rises faster than you can stand up. It's an eye-opening heartbreaker that ends in hope. Highly recommended; you owe it to yourself to read this book." —Library Journal

“[A] poetic second novel…. [main character] Esch traces in the minutiae of every moment of every scene of her life the thin lines between passion and violence, love and hate, life and death…her voice…[gives] its cast of small lives a huge resonance.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Salvage the Bones is an engaging novel that, on the surface, seems like a sorrowful tale of a broken household, yet holds beneath it the cherished story of family and loyalty." - The Root.com

"Salvage the Bones is a novel that will make readers wince at times and tear up at others. Ward gives voice to the forgotten families of the Gulf Coast through lyrical imagery and the type of uncensored authenticity that can only be delivered through the eyes of a child… it is a true testament to the realities of rural poverty. Once the storm hits, you’ll find yourself tearing through the book and finishing it with a better sense of Katrina’s impact.”— Bust

"A fiery, almost fable-like novel."Whole Living

"With spare and eloquent language, Ward creates remarkably memorable characters... readers will discover a world seldom depicted in the coverage of Katrina." - School Library Journal
"Uncompromising and frank, showing both beauty and violence, poverty and resilience, in a powerful and poetic voice."Sun Herald (Biloxi, MS)

"This second novel delivers on and expands the promise of Where the Line Bleeds; Jesmyn Ward has claimed her place both as a contemporary witness of life in the rural south and as a descendant of its great originals. This memorable clan deals with the threat and then the actuality of Hurricane Katrina in much the way that Faulkner's folk once dealt with fire and flood; the voice here is lyric, unsparing, and fierce. You won't forget this book."—Nicholas Delbanco, author of Sherbrookes & Lastingness: The Art of Old Age

"With Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward has written the best sort of novel—a beautiful, important book that’s both unflinching and tender, heartbreaking and triumphant. A lyrical and riveting testament to the strength of the human spirit, as well as the power of family and community. Ward’s paragraphs are like songs, lifting us even as the authenticity of this world and these characters keeps the ground in clear sight. This is an extraordinary book by an extraordinary writer."—Skip Horack, author of The Southern Cross and The Eden Hunter
"Jesmyn Ward writes like an angel with a knife to your throat, compelling you with exquisite language and a clear voice to go where she goes, to see what she sees. Salvage the Bones is at turns unsettling and upliftingraw and honest as a dog fight, lyrical as a poem. It cuts through the cliches about poverty to arrive at a place of shocking recognition, that at the end of the day love and loyalty to family are all that sustain us." —Ken Wells, author of  Meely LaBauve
"A heartwrenching... story that reminds us of the devastating condition of some parts of America even before Hurricane Katrina came through, but never asks us to abandon hope."—Ron Hogan, CharacterBlog.com

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