Jesmyn Ward, who won the 2011 National Book Award for her novel Salvage the Bones, will join the faculty of Tulane University's Department of English July 1.
Ward is currently a professor of creative writing at the University of South Alabama. The writer grew up just an hour away from New Orleans in DeLisle, Miss., and she set Salvage the Bones in a fictional Mississippi town in the 10 days following Hurricane Katrina. Ward is also the author of the critically lauded memoir Men We Reaped.
Ward is no stranger to the city. Besides having grown up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, she taught writing at the University of New Orleans post-Katrina.
On her blog, upon learning her book had been nominated for the National Book Award, Ward wrote:
"Driving through New Orleans East for work, through that wasted landscape, the houses rotting and spray-painted, the empty streets, the waste from the flood still sitting where the water deposited it when it receded subdued me so thoroughly I didn't write a new sentence for 3 years. Fine, I thought, I'll shut up now. I told despair: You win. I began looking up the pre-requisite courses I'd need to enter a nursing program, began plotting my return to school, my leave from writing."
It's a good thing she didn't do that.