St. Joseph Township-Swearingen Memorial Library Hosts Virtual Event | lifestyles


The St. Joseph Township-Swearingen Memorial Library joins libraries across the state of Illinois to house award-winning author Jesmyn Ward. Ward will discuss how her literary vision and personal experiences address pressing questions about racism and social injustice. The event will take place virtually on Wednesday, October 12 at 7 p.m

Hailed by the American Booksellers Association as “the new Toni Morrison,” a MacArthur genius, and a two-time National Book Award winner, Jesmyn Ward is the author of fiction, nonfiction, and memoir that the New York Times Book Review called “raw, beautiful, and Dangerous.” In 2017, she won the National Book Award twice, becoming the first woman and first person of color, and joins the ranks of William Faulkner, Saul Bellow, John Cheever, Philip Roth, and John Updike. Ward’s novels, written primarily on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi are heavily influenced by the trauma of Hurricane Katrina.

2011 National Book Award winner Salvage the Bones is a disturbing but ultimately empowering story about family bonds amid the chaos of the hurricane. Men We Reaped: A Memoir tells the story of the loss of five young men in their lives – to drugs, accidents, suicide and the misfortune that leaves people in poverty. Ward is editor of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling anthology The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race. Her latest novel, the critically acclaimed Sing, Unburyed, Sing, won the 2017 National Book Award. “A searing, urgent read for anyone who thinks the shadow of slavery and Jim Crow are over” (Celeste Ng). Sing has been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Aspen Words Literary Prize. Ward’s latest work is Navigate Your Stars, an adaptation of her 2018 commencement address at Tulane University, which advocates the value of hard work and the importance of respect for self and others.

As a professor of creative writing at Tulane University and associate editor of Vanity Fair, Ward has received numerous awards, including the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, a MacArthur Genius Grant, and a Strauss Living.

A conversation with novelist Jesmyn Ward is presented by Illinois Libraries Present, a new nationwide collaboration between public libraries. The collaboration is designed to provide library patrons across the state with virtual events featuring best-selling, respected and diverse speakers. 192 Illinois libraries have joined Illinois Libraries Present. By collaborating, libraries can bring speakers to their communities that may not be possible due to budget constraints or production capacity.

Illinois Libraries Present is funded in part by a grant provided by the Illinois State Library, a division of the Office of State, using funds from the US Institute of Museum and Library Services under the terms of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) .

A talk with novelist Jesmyn Ward begins Wednesday, October 12 at 7:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. To register, visit For more information, call 217-469-2159 or email [email protected] For more information on this speaker, visit


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