The University of South Alabama’s Jesmyn Ward has won the 2011 National Book Award in Fiction for her novel Salvage the Bones (Bloomsbury). The novel is the story of one community’s survival during the turmoil of Hurricane Katrina. Ward joined the USA creative writing faculty this fall.
"I wanted to write about the experiences of the poor and the black and the rural people of the South," Ward said in her acceptance speech. Earlier in the week, she told The Associated Press that writing was a way to "ease the looming fact of death." Ward’s brother was killed by a drunk driver the year she graduated from college.
Ward grew up in DeLisle, Mississippi. She was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford and the 2010-2011 John and Renée Grisham Visiting Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi. Her debut novel, Where the Line Bleeds (Agate Bolden, 2008), was an Essence Magazine Book Club selection, the recipient of a Black Caucus of the ALA Honor Award, and a finalist for both the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.