Jesmyn Ward, an associate professor of English at Tulane University, won the National Book Award in fiction for her book Sing, Unburied Sing (Scribner, 2017). The book tells the story of a Jojo, a young African American male whose father is in jail and whose mother is a drug addict.
The National Book Awards were established in 1950 and are presented by the National Book Foundation. Winners receive a bronze medal and statue and a $10,000 prize.
In 2011, Ward won the National Book Award for her novel Salvage the Bones. The book tells the story of a young African-American girl who lives with her father and three brothers in a small town on the Gulf Coast in Mississippi. The teenager is pregnant and her father is a heavy drinker. The story takes places as Hurricane Katrina is bearing down on the area.
Before joining the faculty at Tulane University in 2014, Ward was an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of South Alabama. Professor Ward was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and during the 2010-11 academic year and she has served as the John and Renee Grisham Visiting Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi. Her debut novel, published in 2008, was Where the Line Bleeds. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University and a master of fine arts degree from the University of Michigan.