Men We Reaped
A MemoirBook - 2013
A National Book Award winner recounts the loss of five young men in her life to drugs, accidents, suicide and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men, sharing her experiences of living through the dying as she searches through answers in her community.
“We saw the lightning and that was the guns; and then we heard the thunder and that was the big guns; and then we heard the rain falling and that was the blood falling; and when we came to get in the crops, it was dead men that we reaped.” -Harriet Tubman
In five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five young men in her life-to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: Why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth-and it took her breath away. Her brother and her friends all died because of who they were and where they were from, because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle that fostered drug addiction and the dissolution of family and relationships. Jesmyn says the answer was so obvious she felt stupid for not seeing it. But it nagged at her until she knew she had to write about her community, to write their stories and her own.
Jesmyn grew up in poverty in rural Mississippi. She writes powerfully about the pressures this brings, on the men who can do no right and the women who stand in for family in a society where the men are often absent. She bravely tells her story, revisiting the agonizing losses of her only brother and her friends. As the sole member of her family to leave home and pursue higher education, she writes about this parallel American universe with the objectivity distance provides and the intimacy of utter familiarity. A brutal world rendered beautifully, Jesmyn Ward's memoir will sit comfortably alongside Edwidge Danticat's Brother, I'm Dying, Tobias Wolff's This Boy's Life, and Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
A memoir that examines rural poverty and the lingering strains of racism in the south by the prize-winning author of Salvage the Bones.
Author Ward, the first in her family to escape the rural poverty and racism of small-town DeLisle, Mississippi, reflects on the loss of five young Black men of DeLisle, including her beloved brother, over the course of four years, their lives cut short by drugs, violence, and suicide. She travels back in time to their early years to find the roots of destructive patterns, and reflects on the many factors that conspire against Black men in the South. Author Ward's novel Salvage the Bones won the 2011 National Book Award. Annotation ©2014 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)
Recounts the loss of five young men in the author's life to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the misfortune that can follow those who live in poverty, sharing her experiences of living through the dying as she searches through answers in her community.