New Mississippi Writer: Jessamyn Ward, National Book Award nominee

–by Amber Lewis
National Book Award nominee Jesmyn Ward is just the latest Mississippi writer shining bright
Similar to the Southern life of contradiction several of our authors have touched on, Ward quotes Faulkner, saying that good writing addresses “the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself.” How does this contradictory life continue?
Ward suggests she had to move away from the South to begin to understand Faulkner and what he was doing. Do you have to live away from the South to gain perspective? To see how the South is characterized and represented from the outside? Do you have to look outside to appreciate what is happening in Southern culture?
Southern lit is treated as a separate niche, and Ward is surprised at national attention. What kind of attention is it? We are still separating the South as a region in a way that other regions aren’t.
She talks about race and rural prejudices as intertwined because of her personal experience growing up. How do rural circumstances shape racial issues?

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