An Evening with Jesmyn Ward

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Online Program

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Program Description



Award-winning author Jesmyn Ward will discuss how her literary vision and personal experiences address urgent questions about racism and social injustice.

Hailed as “the new Toni Morrison” by the American Booksellers Association, Ward is a MacArthur Genius and two-time National Book Award winner. She is the first woman and first person of color to achieve that honor. Ward’s novels, primarily set on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, are deeply informed by the trauma of Hurricane Katrina. Salvage the Bones, winner of the 2011 National Book Award, is a troubling, but ultimately empowering tale of familial bonds set amid the chaos of the hurricane. Men We Reaped :A Memoir, deals with the loss of five young men in her life - to drugs, accidents, suicide and the bad luck that follows people in poverty. Her newest novel, the critically acclaimed Sing, Unburied, Sing, won the 2017 National Book Award. Ward’s latest is Navigate Your Stars, an adaptation of her 2018 Tulane University Commencement speech that champions the value of hard work and the importance of respect for oneself and others.

Ward is a professor of creative writing at Tulane University and contributing editor to Vanity Fair

Registration is required and can be completed online at, by calling 309.590.6168, or in person at the Adult Services Desk.

A Conversation with Novelist Jesmyn Ward is presented by Illinois Libraries Present, a new statewide collaboration among public libraries. The collaboration is designed to bring virtual events with bestselling, esteemed, and diverse speakers to library patrons across the state. 192 Illinois libraries have joined Illinois Libraries Present. Working together allows libraries to bring speakers to their communities that might not be possible due to budget constraints or production capabilities. Illinois Libraries Present is funded in part by a grant awarded by the Illinois State Library, a department of the Office of Secretary of State, using funds provided by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).