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Tulane profs’ books to be city reads in New Orleans, Philly

December 22, 2018

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Novels by two Tulane University professors have been chosen for next year’s One Book, One City reading and discussion programs in New Orleans and Philadelphia.

One Book, One Philadelphia chose Jesmyn Ward’s novel “Sing, Unburied, Sing,” while One Book, One New Orleans will feature “Vengeance” by Zachary Lazar, a Tulane news release said.

Ward’s book is about a 13-year-old boy whose drug-addicted mother takes him and his toddler sister on a road trip to pick up their white father from prison in Mississippi.

Lazar’s narrator tries to unravel the truth behind the supposed crime of a man serving a life term in the Louisiana State Penitentiary for murder.

“Sing, Unburied, Sing,” published in 2017, won the National Book Award for fiction and a $625,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Ward was the first African-American author and the first woman to receive two National Book Awards. Her 2011 novel, “Salvage the Bones,” also won the award.

Her memoir, “Men We Reaped,” is the One Book, One Philadelphia adult companion selection for 2019.

“I’m honored my book was chosen to be a One Book, One Philadelphia selection,” Ward said in the news release. “I’m grateful that my characters will live and breathe for the people of Philadelphia, and I hope they find something of themselves in my work.”

Published in 2018, “Vengeance” was inspired by a passion play called “The Life of Jesus Christ” which Lazar saw at the prison in Angola.

“My book deals with some painful subjects, but it’s also about loving New Orleans, not just falling in love with it, which are two different things,” Lazar said. “I am very honored to be embraced by this city in this way.”

The One Book, One City movement is a community reading program that began in 1998 and invites everyone in a city to read and discuss the same book.

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