Oprah has announced her 103rd book club pick as the newly released Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward. If any author were ever That Girl, it’s Ward. She’s the recipient of two National Book Awards for two of her three other books (apart from this latest one), and is widely regarded as one of our modern greats.
Oprah calls this latest book by Ward “a vital work for our culture.” The inspiration for its title comes from Dante Alighieri’s Inferno (“‘Let us descend,’ the poet now began, ‘and enter this blind world.’”), and it prefaces a story that dives into the hell that was American slavery.
Annis guides readers as they descend into the inhumanity of chattel slavery. As a girl, Annis is sold south by her enslaver father and now must make the treacherous journey through the rice fields of the Carolinas, the slave Markets of New Orleans, and a hellish Louisiana sugar plantation, all while using memories of her mother and stories of her African warrior grandmother as a sort of spiritual salve. As she journeys, she becomes open to the more hidden spiritual side of things, which causes her to come into contact with helpful and wicked spirits alike.
If you’d like to follow along with Oprah’s book club, here is the schedule.
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