Ten Evenings

Jesmyn Ward

“Home is about the earth. Whether the earth open up to you. Whether it pull you so close the space between you and it melt and y’all one and it beats like your heart. Same time.”

Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing

Winner of two National Book Awards for Fiction, Jesmyn Ward’s latest novel Let Us Descend is a reimagining of American slavery, as beautifully rendered as it is heart-wrenching.

Searching, harrowing, and 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. 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.

Jesmyn Ward 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 Where the Line Bleeds and 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.

“While the magical element is new in Ward’s fiction, her allusiveness, anchored in her interest in the politics of race, has been pointing in this direction all along. It takes a touch of the spiritual to speak across chasms of age, class, and color … The signal characteristic of Ward’s prose is its lyricism. “I’m a failed poet,” she has said. The length and music of Ward’s sentences owe much to her love of catalogues, extended similes, imagistic fragments, and emphasis by way of repetition … The effect, intensified by use of the present tense, can be hypnotic. Some chapters sound like fairy tales. This, and her ease with vernacular language, puts Ward in fellowship with such forebears as Zora Neale Hurston and William Faulkner.”



Let Us Descend is available from White Whale Bookstore, where you may also purchase additional titles by Jesmyn Ward.

Sponsored by UPMC

With additional support from FHLBank Pittsburgh and University of Pittsburgh Library System


Monday, May 13, 2024 at 7:30 p.m. ET


$30 – $43
Tickets may also be purchased via phone (412-622-8866) or at the door starting at 6:30 p.m. on the day of the event. Student tickets are $15, available to purchase with promo code LS24STUDENT.


The viewing link will be emailed to you on the day of the event. Viewers will have access to the recorded program for one week, expiring after May 20, 2024.


Carnegie Music Hall
4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, 15213

Upcoming Lectures

Hernan Diaz


Ed Yong

APR 29

Jesmyn Ward

MAY 13

Anna Monardo

MAY 23