Let Us Descend
by Jesmyn Ward
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Pub Date 24 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 03 Oct 2023
“‘Let us descend,’ the poet now began, ‘and enter this blind world.’” —Inferno, Dante Alighieri
Let Us Descend is a reimagining of American slavery, as beautifully rendered as it is heart-wrenching. Searching, harrowing, 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.
Annis, sold south by the white enslaver who fathered her, is the reader’s guide through this hellscape. 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 Ward leads readers through the descent, this, her fourth novel, is ultimately a story of rebirth and reclamation.
From one of the most singularly brilliant and beloved writers of her generation, 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. Let Us Descend is Jesmyn Ward’s most magnificent novel yet, a masterwork for the ages.
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Average rating from 108 members
This book is, not surprisingly, gorgeously written. It is also brutal (and this, too, is not at all surprising). The novel tells the harrowing story of Annis who is marched to New Orleans after her Mama is sold off. It is raw and gritty. Also featured are spirits who guide Annis in her journey. It is not at all an easy read, but it is certainly an important one. There's a bit too much magical realism for my personal taste in books but that portion of the novel is, of course, very well done.