Originally from the Gulf Coast community of DeLisle, Mississippi, Jesmyn Ward is unapologetically steeped in a southern Black literary tradition that amplifies the complicated realities of being Black in the South. Ward is a MacArthur Fellow and two-time National Book Award winner for her novels Salvage the Bones (2011) and Sing, Unburied, Sing (2017). She writes across a variety of genres, including fiction, essays, and a memoir, Men We Reaped (2013). In an interview with Regina N. Bradley ahead of the release of her novel Let Us Descend (2023), Ward discussed the importance of the Gothic in writing about the Black South, how grief is central to her writing, and why writing helps her confront and understand Mississippi's racially turbulent history.