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Let Us Descend


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From Jesmyn Ward – the two-time National Book Award winner, youngest winner of the Library of Congress Prize for Fiction, and MacArthur Fellow – comes a haunting masterpiece, sure to be an instant classic, about an enslaved girl in the years before the Civil War

About the Author

Jesmyn Ward received her MFA from the University of Michigan and has received the MacArthur Genius Grant, a Stegner Fellowship, a John and Renee Grisham Writers Residency, the Strauss Living Prize and the 2022 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. She was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction for Sing, Unburied, Sing, and is the winner of two National Book Awards for Fiction for both Sing, Unburied, Sing and Salvage the Bones. She is also the author of the novel Where the Line Bleeds and the memoir Men We Reaped, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize and the Media for a Just Society Award. She is currently a professor of creative writing at Tulane University and lives in Mississippi.


I have read all of Jesmyn Ward’s books and have been a fan of her writing for years. Let Us Descend is a vital work for our culture and I’m so excited to have her newest offering as part of our Book Club
*Oprah Winfrey*

An extraordinary novel ... As in all of Ward’s novels, the writing is both lyrical and sharply controlled

A poetic book about slavery … Ward’s writing is like a spirit that flits and flies ... While also going deep into the rich inner world that sustains [Annis]
*Financial Times, Critic's Pick: Best Books of 2023*

This harrowing, extravagantly beautiful novel at times seems to hover halfway between the real world and the spirit one. A sublime work
*Daily Mail*

Elegiac ... Let Us Descend is recounted with a lyrical economy
*Times Literary Supplement*

Ward’s specificity about the horrors of that journey – the beatings, the rapes, the near drownings, the actual drownings – is brutal. But there is also beauty: she has a poet’s ear and her repetition of phrases and conjunctions is hypnotic ... Just as Toni Morrison and Colson Whitehead used black spiritual traditions in their writing, so does Ward ... This skein of hope is what keeps one reading’

Jesmyn Ward is one of the greatest writers of all time. And Let Us Descend, once again, proves it
*Jacqueline Woodson, author of RED AT THE BONE*

Exquisite, harrowing, elemental, transcendent and ultimately hopeful. The best book I’ve read in years. What a writer Jesmyn Ward is!
*Louise Kennedy, author of TRESPASSES*

Ward resurrects an enslaved girl out of the lost folds of the antebellum South, twists magic through every raindrop, mushroom and stalk of sugarcane, and drops you into the middle of her harrowing, unendurable, magnificent song. This is a gripping, mythic, bone-pulverizing descent into the grim darkness of American slavery – and yet somehow this novel simultaneously leaves you in awe of the human capacity to not only endure, but to ascend back to the light. A spectacular achievement
*Anthony Doerr, author of ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE*

A stunning achievement. Will grip you from the first word to the last
*Nathan Harris, author of THE SWEETNESS OF WATER*

This harrowing, extravagantly beautiful novel at times seems to hover halfway between the real world and the spirit one. A sublime work
*Daily Mail*

A visceral chronicle of one young woman’s bondage ... This is a sensual book

A lush and harrowing journey through the American antebellum South ... Beautifully alive and luminous
*Irish Times*

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