Jesmyn Ward at Writers in the Library, Jan. 25

WhereLineBleedsJesmyn Ward will read from her work at Writers in the Library, 7 p.m., Tuesday, January 25, in UT’s Hodges Library auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Ward’s debut novel, Where the Line Bleeds, tells the story of twin brothers Joshua and Christophe, who take very different paths as they embark on their adult lives. Joshua finds a job working as a dock laborer on the Gulf of Mexico. But Christophe, unable to find a job and desperate to alleviate his family’s poverty, starts to sell drugs.

Jesmyn Ward grew up in DeLisle, Mississippi, a small Mississippi town near New Orleans, and Where the Line Bleeds makes palpable her deep knowledge and love of this milieu: black, poor, drug-riddled, yet sustained by strong family ties and a sense of community.

The novel has received rave reviews and plenty of awards. Publishers Weekly calls the book “starkly beautiful,” and Ward “a fresh new voice in American literature.” Where the Line Bleeds was First Runner-up for the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Cabell First Novelist Award in 2009 and a finalist for the 2009 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for fiction. The novel was also an Essence Book Club Selection, one of the Pennsylvania School Librarians’ Top Forty Fiction Titles for Young Adults, and recipient of a 2009 Honor Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.

Ward was the first person in her family to attain a college degree. She holds an M.F.A. from the University of Michigan and the B.A. and M.A. from Stanford University, where she was awarded a Stegner Fellowship in the Creative Writing Program. She currently teaches fiction writing at the University of Mississippi, where she is Ole Miss’s Grisham Writer in Residence.

Writers in the Library is sponsored by the University of Tennessee Department of English and the UT Libraries. For further information contact Marilyn Kallet, Director, UT Creative Writing Program (865-974-6947 or mkallet@nullutk.edu), or Jeff Daniel Marion, Writer in Residence, UT Libraries (dannymar@nullearthlink.net).

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