BOOK NOTES – SALVAGE THE BONES by Gili Ben-Zvi
Last year, between summer and fall, the weather ran, yet again, amuck, and a strange mood was in the air. As I turned to TV in hope of escape, I came across a late night talk show interview with Jesmyn Ward, an American author who spoke of major themes in her writing with a charismatic pull. In a parallel reaction to the anomalous atmosphere, my local bookstore displayed an array of climate related titles among which was Ward’s second book “Salvage The Bones”. The novel spans 12 days in the course of hurricane Katrina as it struck the Gulf Coast of the United States. On the outskirts of a poor, rural town in Mississippi, fifteen year old Esch, lives with her three brothers and father, as they face an upcoming calamity, a natural disaster which strains the already meager resources of their disenfranchised community. Ward’s brilliance comes from her ability to create a realistic narrative of hardship that is neither voyeuristic nor sensationalist, that is inhabited by characters that are not restricted to the circumstances of their existence, and permits us to take part in their lives. I was absorbed by the story’s willingness to be told. The book had a lingering effect, it took time for it to clear up, for me to move on, to be able to read another work of fiction that wasn’t rendered pale in comparison to “Salvage The Bones”.