Virtual event

St. Joseph and Swearingen Township Memorial Library to Host Virtual Event | Lifestyles

St. Joseph-Swearingen Township Memorial Library joins Illinois State Libraries in welcoming award-winning author, Jesmyn Ward. Ward will discuss how his literary outlook and personal experiences address pressing questions about racism and social injustice. The event will be held virtually on Wednesday, October 12 at 7 p.m.

Hailed as “the new Toni Morrison” by the American Booksellers Association, MacArthur Genius and two-time National Book Award winner, Jesmyn Ward is the author of fiction, non-fiction and memoirs that The New York Times Book Review has called “raw, beautiful, and dangerous. In 2017, she became the first woman and first person of color to win the National Book Award twice, joining the ranks of William Faulkner, Saul Bellow, John Cheever, Philip Roth and John Updike Ward’s novels, set primarily on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, are deeply influenced by the trauma of Hurricane Katrina.

Salvage the Bones, winner of the 2011 National Book Award, is a disturbing, but ultimately thought-provoking story about family ties unfolding amid the chaos of the hurricane. Men We Reaped: A Memoir, deals with the loss of five young men in her life – to drugs, accidents, suicide and the bad luck that follows people into poverty. Ward edited the critically acclaimed anthology The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, a New York Times bestseller. Her critically acclaimed latest novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing, won the 2017 National Book Award. “A burning and urgent read for anyone who thinks the shadow of slavery and Jim Crow have passed” (Celeste ng). Sing has been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Aspen Words Literary Prize. Ward’s latest is Navigate Your Stars, an adaptation of his 2018 Tulane University commencement speech that champions the value of hard work and the importance of respect for self and others.

A professor of creative writing at Tulane University and a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, Ward has received numerous honors, including the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, a MacArthur Genius Grant, and a Strauss Living.

A conversation with novelist Jesmyn Ward is presented by Illinois Libraries Present, a new statewide collaboration between public libraries. The collaboration is designed to bring virtual events with top-selling, esteemed and diverse speakers to library patrons across the state. 192 Illinois libraries have joined Illinois Libraries Present. Working together allows libraries to bring speakers to their communities which might not be possible due to budget constraints or production capabilities.

Illinois Libraries Present is supported in part by a grant from the State Library of Illinois, a department of the Office of the Secretary of State, using funds provided by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act. (LSTA).

A conversation with novelist Jesmyn Ward will begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, October 12. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. To register, visit For more information, call 217-469-2159 or email [email protected] For more information on this speaker, please visit