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Salvage the Bones

By: Jesmyn Ward

Publisher: Old CA Clients

Imprint: Bloomsbury US

Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9781608196265

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On Sale: | Pages: 271

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  • Reviews
Winner of the 2011 National Book AwardA 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 make up the novel's framework yield to their dramatic conclusion, this unforgettable family-motherless children sacrificing for one another 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 Bones is muscled with poetry, revelatory, and real.
“Salvage the Bones,” the 2011 National Book Award winner for fiction, is a taut, wily novel, smartly plotted and voluptuously written. It feels fresh and urgent, but it's an ancient, archetypal tale.... Jesmyn Ward makes beautiful music, plays deftly with her reader's expectations: where we expect violence, she gives us sweetness. When we brace for beauty, she gives us blood.... For all its fantastical underpinnings, “Salvage the Bones” is never wrong when it comes to suffering.... And like every good myth, at its heart, the book is salvific; it wants to teach you how to wait out the storm and swim to safety.
—New York Times
"Salvage the Bones," by young Mississippi native Jesmyn Ward, could have gone wrong so many ways. It could have been maudlin, preachy, predictable. It is none of those things. It is a gripping, tightly told tale, and a fine novel.... Fiction though it is, this may be the best account you'll read of Hurricane Katrina. Ward draws much of her story, its tone a wise blend of detachment and ferocity, from her own hardscrabble experiences. In her epigraph, she quotes both Deuteronomy and Outkast. Rest assured that epigraphs in others' novels to come will draw from this one's powerful words. File it under "future classic."
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Salvage the Bones" is an intense book, with powerful, direct prose that dips into poetic metaphor.... Ward, 34, accepted the National Book Award saying that she wanted to write about poor, black rural Southerners in such a way that the greater culture would see their stories — "our stories," she said — as universal. In this novel of dogfighting, unwanted pregnancy and poverty, she has done just that.
—Los Angeles Times
"Salvage the Bones," the National Book Award-winning second novel by the (until now) essentially unnoticed Jesmyn Ward, is often nearly unbearably painful. It is also often strikingly beautiful, taut, relentless and, by its end, indelible.... Ward has spoken of being influenced by Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying," and it shows. The bitterness of having nothing, prospects of nothing - so inexorable and crushing that a kind of madness descends, causing the principals to turn on each other as well as fight to protect each other - soaks these pages. A reader can taste it. It's astonishingly brave.
—San Francisco Chronicle
On one level, “Salvage the Bones” is a simple story about a poor black family that's about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy.... Tea Obreht's “The Tiger's Wife” is an odds-on favorite for the National Book Award, partly because it's the only well-known novel among the finalists, but “Salvage the Bones” has the aura of a classic about it.
—Washington Post
The devotion between Esch's brother Skeeter and China is so bracing that "Salvage the Bones" acts as a stiff corrective to the soft-core dog lit spawned by "Marley and Me." Moreover, Ward's pacing around the hurricane is exquisite -- we nearly forget its impending savagery. The Batistes' shared sacrifice is moving, made more so by their occasional shirking of sacrifice. Ward allows the letdowns integral to family life to play their part. "Salvage the Bones" is a worthy finalist for a National Book Award.
—Cleveland Plain Dealer
Despite the brutal world it depicts, "Salvage the Bones" is a beautiful read. Ms. Ward's redolent prose conjures the magic and menace of the Southern landscape. It is a place she knows well; she models Bois Sauvage after her own Mississippi hometown.
—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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