Jesmyn Ward, Author of Sing Unburied Sing will be in the valley to headline the 5th edition of Amherst College‘s literary festival which takes place from February 27th to March 1st. Ward will be in conversation with Jennifer Acker, founder and editor in chief of The Common.
Ward is a MacArthur Genius and two-time National Book Award winner (2011 and 2017). She is has written two novels, Salvage the Bones and Sing, Unburied Sing, a memoir, Men We Reaped and edited a collection of essays, The Fire This Time. In April 2020 she releases Navigate Your Stars, an adaptation of her 2018 Tulane University (New Orleans) Commencement speech that champions the value of hard work and the importance of respect for oneself and others. She is also currently working on two other new books: a novel for adults set in New Orleans at the height of the American slave trade, and a young adult novel about a Black girl from the South with supernatural powers.
Ward is a professor at Tulane University where she teaches creative writing. Her awards include the 2016 Strauss Living award, given every five years by the American Academy of Arts & Letters for literary excellence. In 2017, she was recognized with a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant for her work “exploring the enduring bonds of community and familial love among poor African-Americans of the rural South against a landscape of circumscribed possibilities and lost potential.” In 2018, she was recognized among Time‘s 100 Most Influential People.
Also on this year’s Litfest line up are National Book Award for Fiction 2019 winner, Susan Choi, and finalist, Laila Lalami, memoirist, former speechwriter and deputy national security advisor to President Barack Obama, Ben Rhodes and poet laureate for Northampton, Massachusetts, for 2019-2021. Karen Skolfield.
Litfest activities will primarily take place on the Amherst College Campus, along with special tours organized at the Emily Dickinson Museum.