Jesmyn Ward, an associate professor of English at Tulane University in New Orleans, will receive the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in the fiction category. The award is presented by the Cleveland Foundation. The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards recognize works that make important contributions to our understanding of racism and cultural diversity. Professor Ward will be honored at the State Theater in Cleveland on September 27.
Ward is being honored 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 book previously won the National Book Award. Anisfield-Wolf juror Joyce Carol Oates called Sing, Unburied Sing “a beautifully rendered, heartbreaking, savage and tender novel.”
Ward also won the National Book Award in 2011 for her novel Salvage the Bones. She is the only woman to win two National Book Awards. In 2017, she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship.
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 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.