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Men We Reaped, by Jesmyn Ward

February 10, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


This memoir from a Black woman born in Mississippi in the late 1970s memorializes the lives of five young men, including her brother, who died way before their time, and tells the story of the community they lived in. Who were these men? Where did they come from, and why were they taken so early?

In her prologue, Jesmyn Ward writes:

…my ghosts were once people, and I cannot forget that. I cannot forget that when I am walking the streets of DeLisle, streets that seem even barer since Katrina. Streets that seem even more empty since all these deaths, where instead of hearing my friends or my brother playing music from their cars at the county park, the only sound I hear is a tortured parrot that one of my cousins owns, a parrot that screams so loudly it sounds through the neighborhood, a scream like a wounded child ... Sometimes when that parrot screams, sounding its rage and grief, I wonder at my neighborhood’s silence. I wonder why silence is the sound of our subsumed rage, our accumulated grief. I decide this is not right; that I must give voice to this story.

And this she does. Powerfully.


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