Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward

Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward Book Summary


OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK • Instant New York Times Bestseller • Named one of the best books of 2023 by The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, The Boston Globe, Time, The New Yorker, and more.

“Nothing short of epic, magical, and intensely moving.” —Vogue • “A novel of triumph.” —The Washington Post • “Harrowing, immersive, and other-worldly.” —People

From “one of America’s finest living writers” (San Francisco Chronicle) and “heir apparent to Toni Morrison” (LitHub)—comes a haunting masterpiece about an enslaved girl in the years before the Civil War that’s destined to become a classic.

Let Us Descend describes 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. A journey that is as beautifully rendered as it is heart wrenching, the novel is “[t]he literary equivalent of an open wound from which poetry pours” (NPR).

Annis, sold south by the white enslaver who fathered her, is the reader’s guide. 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 Annis leads readers through the descent, hers is ultimately a story of rebirth and reclamation.

From one of the most singularly brilliant and beloved writers of her generation, this “[s]earing and lyrical…raw, transcendent, and ultimately hopeful” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution) 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.

Let Us Descend Book Details

Book Name Let Us Descend
Genre Literary Fiction
Author Jesmyn Ward
Published 24 October 2023, Tuesday
Price $12.99
E-Book Size 5.34 MB

Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward Book Reviews

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Simply beautiful and powerful. While I was reading this it felt as if I was listening to music…a soul crushing and life affirming symphony.


Powerful, really. The horrible lives led by some slaves is made clear in this book. The author makes that abundantly clear. I got lost a bit in the use of the spirits and was sorry when the book ended, which to me is a good sign,


Absurd. Nonsensical wandering through memories and spirit worlds. There was a story to tell here, but it didn’t get told.


Annis’s journey as a slave. This book is well written in poetic prose. The reader’s imagination is turned on as the protagonist, Annis, after facing numerous incidents of abuse, enters the ‘spiritual’ realms. The stories of 3 generations of slaves is entwined with Annis’s personal journey both physical and psychological within slavery.


Decent…not great. Dragged in places, overall good not great

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5 Books like Let Us Descend (Jesmyn Ward)

About Author "Jesmyn Ward"

Jesmyn Ward (born April 1, 1977) is an American novelist and a professor of English at Tulane University, where she holds the Andrew W. Mellon Professorship in the Humanities. She won the 2011 National Book Award for Fiction for her second novel Salvage the Bones and won the 2017 National Book Award for Fiction for her novel Sing, Unburied, Sing. She also received a 2012 Alex Award for the story about familial love and community in facing Hurricane Katrina. She is the only woman and only African American to win the National Book Award for Fiction twice. All of Ward's first three novels are set in the fictitious Mississippi town of Bois Sauvage. In her fourth novel, Let Us Descend, the main character Annis, perhaps inhabits an earlier Bois Sauvage when she is taken shackled from the Carolina coast and put to work on a Mississippi sugar plantation near New Orleans. Early life and education Jesmyn Ward was born in 1977 in Berkeley, California. When she was three, her parents returne....

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