Back in October, we announced Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing as the 2019 One Book, One Philadelphia featured selection, and since then we’ve been digging in and gathering our thoughts throughout the three-month-long reading period.
Tonight, we’ll officially kick off another robust season of programs – One Book’s 17th! – with an evening of conversation and performance at the Parkway Central Library. The event is free and open to the public, and will feature a reading from Sing, Unburied, Sing by the author. A conversation between Ward and WURD’s Sara Lomax-Reese will follow, centering on criminal justice reform, intergenerational trauma, and other themes examined in the book. The evening will conclude with a performance inspired by Sing, Unburied, Sing, composed and performed by students from The Curtis Institute of Music.
Tonight’s kickoff event is just one of more than 120 engaging and educational One Book programs that will take place now through March 13. Book discussions, children’s craft workshops, historical presentations, culinary events, panel discussions, and film screenings are just some of the wide variety of events to be offered across the city.
Sing, Unburied, Sing—a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award winner—follows one family as they make the fraught trip from their Gulf Coast town to the Mississippi State Penitentiary. Ward’s novel pays witness to the strength of emotional bonds, the violent pull of our collective history, and the meaning of healing.
Jesmyn Ward is the first woman and first African American author to receive two National Book Awards—in 2011 for Salvage the Bones, set in the chaos and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and in 2017 for Sing, Unburied, Sing. Men We Reaped—Ward’s memoir about the loss of five young men in her life and an exploration of her community’s history of racism and economic struggle—is the 2019 One Book adult companion title. Young readers will join the One Book conversation with youth companion titles Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes and Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña. More than 3,000 copies of the books have been distributed to classrooms and nonprofits, and both Ward and Rhodes will be speaking to students as part of the programming.
Founded in 2003 by the Free Library and the Mayor’s Office, One Book, One Philadelphia motivates tens of thousands of people to read the featured selection and participate in discussions, events, workshops, classes, and more each year.