Winner of the National Book Award
“Salvage the Bones is a beautiful read. Ward’s redolent prose conjures the magic and menace of the southern landscape.”—The Dallas Morning News
A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch’s father is growing concerned. A hard drinker, largely absent, he doesn’t show concern for much else. Esch and her three brothers are stocking food, but there isn’t much to save. Lately, Esch can’t keep down what food she gets; she’s fourteen and pregnant. Her brother Skeetah is sneaking scraps for his prized pitbull’s new litter, dying one by one in the dirt. Meanwhile, brothers Randall and Junior try to stake their claim in a family long on child’s play and short on parenting. As the twelve days that make up the novel’s framework yield to their dramatic conclusion, this unforgettable family—motherless children sacrificing for one another as they can, protecting and nurturing where love is scarce—pulls itself up to face another day. “[Salvage the Bones] is a gripping, tightly told tale, and a fine novel . . . This may be the best account you’ll read of Hurricane Katrina. Ward draws much of her story, its tone a wise blend of detachment and ferocity, from her own hardscrabble experiences.”—Pamela Miller, The Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Jesmyn Ward grew up in DeLisle, Mississippi. Her debut novel, Where the Line Bleeds received the Black Caucus of the American Library Association Honor Award and was a finalist for both the Virginia Commonwealth University Cabell First Novelist Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.
Salvage the Bones has been adopted for First-Year Experience programs at:
Christian Brothers University (TN); Florida A&M University; Hampton University (VA); Rhodes College (TN); Rocky Mountain College (MT); Salem College (NC); Vanderbilt University (TN)
Beyond the Book
Listen to or read Jesmyn Ward’s interview with PBS Newshour Arts Correspondent Jeffrey Brown: In Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward Tells Personal Story of Hurricane Katrina