Let Us Descend is a reimagining of American slavery, as beautifully rendered as it is heart-wrenching. Searching, harrowing, replete with transcendent love, the novel is a journey from the rice fields of the Carolinas to the slave markets of New Orleans and into the fearsome heart of a Louisiana sugar plantation.Annis, sold south by the white enslaver who fathered her, is the reader's guide through this hellscape. As she struggles through the miles-long march, Annis turns inward, seeking comfort from memories of her mother and stories of her African warrior grandmother. Throughout, she opens herself to a world beyond this world, one teeming with spirits: of earth and water, of myth and history; spirits who nurture and give, and those who manipulate and take. While Ward leads readers through the descent, this, her fourth novel, is ultimately a story of rebirth and reclamation. From one of the most singularly brilliant and beloved writers of her generation, this miracle of a novel inscribes Black American grief and joy into the very land--the rich but unforgiving forests, swamps, and rivers of the American South. Let Us Descend is Jesmyn Ward's most magnificent novel yet, a masterwork for the ages.
Jesmyn Ward received her MFA from the University of Michigan and has received the MacArthur Genius Grant, a Stegner Fellowship, a John and Renee Grisham Writers Residency, the Strauss Living Prize, and the 2022 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. She is the historic winner--first woman and first Black American--of two National Book Awards for Fiction for Sing, Unburied, Sing (2017) and Salvage the Bones (2011). She is also the author of the novel Where the Line Bleeds and the memoir Men We Reaped, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize and the Media for a Just Society Award. She is currently a professor of creative writing at Tulane University and lives in Mississippi.
"The power and artistry of Ward's work has been celebrated with numerous major awards, and her new novel will be a magnet for readers." --Booklist (starred review)
"[Ward] employs her prodigious skills to craft a deeply moving and empathic story... This testament to Ward's mastery of language should leave readers scrambling for a highlighter."-- Library Journal (starred review)
"Readers won't be able to turn away."-- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"In Let Us Descend, Jesmyn Ward resurrects an enslaved girl out of the lost folds of the antebellum South, twists magic through every raindrop, mushroom, and stalk of sugar cane, and drops you into the middle of her harrowing, unendurable, magnificent song. This is a gripping, mythic, bone-pulverizing descent into the grim darkness of American slavery--and yet somehow this novel simultaneously leaves you in awe of the human capacity to not only endure, but to ascend back to the light. A spectacular achievement." --Anthony Doerr, author of Cloud Cuckoo Land and All The Light We Cannot See