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Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
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Washington Black

by Esi Edugyan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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8566516,250 (3.96)165
Washington Black is an eleven-year-old field slave who knows no other life than the Barbados sugar plantation where he was born. When his master's eccentric brother chooses him to be his manservant, Wash is terrified of the cruelties he is certain await him. But Christopher Wilde, or "Titch," is a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor, and abolitionist. He initiates Wash into a world where a flying machine can carry a man across the sky; where two people, separated by an impossible divide, might begin to see each other as human; and where a boy born in chains can embrace a life of dignity and meaning. But when a man is killed and a bounty is placed on Wash's head, Titch abandons everything to save him. What follows is their flight along the eastern coast of America, and, finally, to a remote outpost in the Arctic, where Wash, left on his own, must invent another new life.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
This is an adventurous novel of great heart and insight, much in the vein of Octavian Nothing, His Dark Materials, and The Good Lord Bird. George Washington Black, called Wash, born enslaved in Barbados on Faith Plantation, is taken up as an eight year old by Titch, the scientist brother of the cruel owner. Wash, a talented artist, becomes Titch's assistant and travels with him, due to accidents and happenstance, to Virginia, the Arctic, Nova Scotia, England, and Morocco, all while being pursued by an agent of the vengeful slaveholder, with a thousand dollar bounty on his head. Wash's journey and his inability to escape the misery of his youth allow for very few glimpses of joy, and the ending is ambiguous rather than happy, but it's an absorbing, well-written, imaginative tale.

Quote: "That was how it began, me and Big Kit, watching the dead go free." ( )
  froxgirl | Aug 27, 2019 |
Quite a powerful novel. I listened to the audiobook, and the reader had a lovely voice. Starting on a plantation in Barbados, a young male slave is handed off, as a favor, to the master's brother to assist in scientific experiments with a hot air balloon. Dreams in the sky & reality on the ground become the themes of this tale. A journey across continents & a journey in life combine to make a story of race, of brotherly love, loyalty, and disillusion. It is a coming of age tale, told in a beautiful saga. Above all, in my opinion, it is a lovely story about the eternal search for love and meaning. ( )
  hemlokgang | Aug 18, 2019 |
I didn't 'get' this book. Each scene/setting is powerful and disturbing and bizarre (the whole premise of the book is bizarre...!), but in the end, each character is like a shadow to me. Perhaps the whole point is to show that we can't ever understand anyone else, but it leaves me unsettled and unsatisfied. Certainly an unusual book! ( )
  emanate28 | Aug 15, 2019 |
An adventure story of a young slave boy and a scientist go on an adventure to escape their current life. There is a lot of exploration, action, and drama in the book. The focus of slavery is short and takes more of a background to help drive the main protagonist. The writing is really well done. It is a very easy to read book, but still has a lot of colorful language and descriptions. There really isn't a plot, just one thing to the next. ( )
  renbedell | Aug 4, 2019 |
A beautifully-written novel of a young boy born into slavery on a Caribbean plantation whose life takes a wholly unexpected turn when the master's eccentric brother shows up. A true page-turner, it is by turns hopeful, tragic, humorous, moving and heartbreaking. I regret that the final quarter of the story felt drained of energy in comparison with the rest -- the highly-anticipated climax seemed to just peter out. Recommended! ( )
  ryner | Jul 25, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
The reader can almost see what is coming. Since Barbados was under British rule, slavery was abolished there in 1834. This, then, could be a novel about the last days of the cruelty, about what happens to a slave-owning family and to the slaves during the waning of the old dispensation.

The Canadian novelist Esi Edugyan has other ideas, however. She is determined that the fate of Washington Black will not be dictated by history, that the novel instead will give him permission to soar above his circumstances and live a life that has been shaped by his imagination, his intelligence and his rich sensibility....Edugyan is willing to take great risks to release the reader from any easy or predictable interpretations of Washington. She is not afraid to allow him to have thoughts and knowledge that seem oddly beyond his command. That is part of his ambiguous power in the book, the idea that, owing to his unusual quickness and subtlety of mind, Washington can be trusted to know more than he should
 
Washington Black opens on a 19th-century sugar plantation in Barbados and launches into the horrors of that experience from the child’s-eye view of the eponymous Washington Black, an 11-year-old slave. But it would be a mistake to think that Esi Edugyan’s Man Booker-longlisted third book is an earnest story of colonial slavery....it is clear that Edugyan is coming at her subject sideways, not with gritty realism but with fabular edges, and as much concerned with the nature of freedom as with slavery, both for her white characters and black....The beauty here lies in Edugyan’s language, which is precise, vivid, always concerned with wordcraft and captivating for it...It’s not what readers who are wedded to realism might want, but Edugyan’s fiction always stays strong, beautiful and beguiling.
 

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Esi Edugyanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Burdeny, DaveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dyer, PeterCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Graham, DionNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hansen, JanetCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Paassen, Catalien vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pappas, Cassandra J.Designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Read, AlexandraCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, JoeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Cleo & Maddox
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I might have been ten, eleven years old—I cannot say for certain—when my first master died.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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George Washington Black, or "Wash," an eleven-year-old field slave on a Barbados sugar plantation, is terrified to be chosen by his master's brother as his manservant. To his surprise, the eccentric Christopher Wilde turns out to be a naturalist, explorer, inventor, and abolitionist. Soon Wash is initiated into a world where a flying machine can carry a man across the sky, where even a boy born in chains may embrace a life of dignity and meaning--and where two people, separated by an impossible divide, can begin to see each other as human. But when a man is killed and a bounty is placed on Wash's head, Christopher and Wash must abandon everything. What follows is their flight along the eastern coast of America, and, finally, to a remote outpost in the Arctic. What brings Christopher and Wash together will tear them apart, propelling Wash even further across the globe in search of his true self. From the blistering cane fields of the Caribbean to the frozen Far North, from the earliest aquariums of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black tells a story of self-invention and betrayal, of love and redemption, of a world destroyed and made whole again, and asks the question, What is true freedom? Amazon
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