Special Issue on the Writings of Jesmyn Ward

deadline for submissions: 
March 1, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Xaview Review
contact email: 

Call for Essay Proposals on the Writings of Jesmyn Ward

Special Issue of the Xavier Revew


In August 2017, Ron Charles, editor of Book World wrote in the The Washington Post:

          Six years ago, a young, relatively unknown writer from Mississippi published Salvage the Bones. In lush prose that felt determined to sprout off the page, the novel described a            poor African American family struck by Hurricane Katrina. From its modest beginnings, Salvage the Bones went on to win the 2011 National Book Award for Fiction and to                    establish its author, Jesmyn Ward, as one of the most powerfully poetic writers in the country.

Expanding on Charles’s description at that time, the Xavier Review seeks to publish a special issue of original essays that will examine the writings of Jesmyn Ward, who currently serves as an Associate Professor of English at Tulane University in New Orleans. In just over a decade, Ward has produced a body of work that has simultaneously found its way onto syllabi in academe and “best seller” lists throughout publishing. Garnering both critical attention and prestigious awards, in 2017 she became the first woman to be awarded two National Book Awards for fiction; Salvage the Bones in 2011 and Sing, Unburied, Sing in 2017, and received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship as well. With comparisons to such writers as Toni Morrison and William Faulkner, Ward’s writing has been described as “starkly beautiful,” “taught and heartbreakingly eloquent” (The New York Times, November 2017).

For its special issue, the Xavier Review seeks essays opening new lines of inquiry into Ward’s writing and editorship. Topics and themes might include but are not limited to: depictions of animals and natural disasters, the fictionalized constructions of social and natural landscapes of the Gulf South, considerations of race, gender and poverty, use of vernacular language, situating Ward’s writing along a continuum of African American literature and/or Southern literature, comparisons to other writers, the use of African retentions—to name but a few.

Brief abstracts of no more than 250 words should be submitted by March 1, 2018. Notifications of decisions will be made no later than April 1st, with completed essays due by July 1st.  For more information or to submit, please email the co-editors for the issue: Dr. Thomas Bonner (Professor Emeritus; tbonner@xula.edu) or Dr. Robin G. Vander (Associate Professor of English/African American & Diaspora Studies; rvander@xula.edu).  For a brief history of the Xavier Review: http://www.xula.edu/review/Xula%20publishing%20history.html