Jes­myn Ward

She has charted her Mis­sis­sippi child­hood, the loss of her brother and the fall­out from Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina – and be­come the first woman to win two US na­tional book awards for fic­tion. Jes­myn Ward talks to Lisa Al­lardice

The Guardian - Review - - News - PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Sarah Lee for the Guardian

If Jes­myn Ward’s fic­tion tends to­wards the epic, that is maybe be­cause her life has been marked by mon­u­men­tal events. “I fought from the very be­gin­ning”, she says. Born pre­ma­turely at just 26 weeks, she was badly at­tacked by her fa­ther’s pit bull as a small child, her younger brother was killed at 19, and, along with sev­eral gen­er­a­tions of her fam­ily, she shel­tered from Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina in a truck. Yet to­day she is the first woman to win the US na­tional book award for fic­tion twice, hailed by a lead­ing re­viewer as “one of the most pow­er­fully po­etic writ­ers in the coun­try”. And on the morn­ing we meet, it has just been an­nounced that she has been short­listed for the Women’s prize for fic­tion for her novel Sing, Un­buried, Sing .

Po­etic prose Sing, Un­buried, Sing is the first novel Ward has writ­ten since re­turn­ing home. Her an­thol­ogy of es­says on race has just come out in the UK

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