Jesmyn Ward Selected as 2016 Memphis Reads Author



To encourage literacy and community-wide conversation, Memphis Reads has chosen a book and author who exposes readers to the gripping tale of a struggling family – held together by threads as they navigate the storms of life.

Readers will meet a family “displaced” by poverty, broken relationships, and their own misfortune, whose growing instability meets near devastation when their lives are reshaped by Hurricane Katrina. In its wake, the storm leaves behind a whirlwind of emotions, as this year’s featured author Jesmyn Ward shows how characters begin to Salvage the Bones.

“Excitement is swelling about this year’s guest author and featured book. We hope to get everyone reading Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones, a page turner that will leave you breathless by the end of the book. Then, you can come out and hear Jesmyn speak and participate in several upcoming events,” commented Dr. Karen B. Golightly, program organizer and Christian Brothers University Associate Professor.

Memphis Reads 2016 is the city’s largest book club, which encourages book clubs throughout the city to adopt a featured book in anticipation of the author’s visit in the Fall, as Jesmyn will do at a public reading and Q & A at the end of September. 

“The ultimate goal of Memphis Reads is to build a sense of community one book at a time,” Golightly explained.

Memphis Public Libraries’ Adult Services Coordinator Wang-Ying Glasgow added, “When you read a book like Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones, the story – detailing the human experience – begins to resonate with you, and it becomes more meaningful when you meet the author. During Memphis Reads, we anticipate the whole community coming together to bond and share common interests and experiences, all in the name of literacy, which is the key to our collective success.”

Several exciting events are planned for Memphis Reads 2016, starting with the communal book reading in June in preparation for Ward’s visit later this year in September. Meanwhile, Dr. Golightly suggests what readers should do while anticipating the author’s visit.

“Read the book, talk to friends, and even people you don’t know about Memphis Reads,” she exclaimed. “Spread the word about the amazing things that can happen when a city reads together. That’s Memphis Reads!”

For more information about Memphis Reads 2016 or the latest updates on upcoming events, visit the Memphis Reads website, Facebook page, or search Twitter for #MemphisReads2016.

This project is funded by a grant contract with the state of Tennessee. This event is funded, in part, by a grant from South Arts, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Tennessee Arts Commission.

Several agencies throughout the city have partnered to make Memphis Reads possible, including Christian Brothers University and their Fresh Reads program, Memphis Public Libraries, Friends of the Library, the City of Memphis, Rhodes College, University of Memphis, Southwest Tennessee Community College, Shelby County Schools, Facing History and Ourselves, the National Civil Rights Museum, Booksellers of Laurelwood, and Story Booth. Other sponsoring agencies include Tennessee Arts Commission, South Arts, NEA, and Follett.