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Washington Black

by Esi Edugyan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,2411346,904 (3.92)263
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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» See also 263 mentions

English (131)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All languages (133)
Showing 1-5 of 131 (next | show all)
Thriller
  BooksInMirror | Feb 19, 2024 |
I liked the first half of this quite a bit. The second half lost momentum for me and truth be told, it’s probably not the fault of the novel. I was traveling and running races and not getting much sleep and I just became disconnected with the flow of the whole story. I think it deserved better from me.

Some lovely writing for sure. ( )
  hmonkeyreads | Jan 25, 2024 |
3.5 stars ( )
  feralcreature | Oct 31, 2023 |
really nice audio reading ( )
  nogomu | Oct 19, 2023 |
Set in 1830's, the story is narrated by Washington "Wash" Black, born into slavery at Faith Plantation in Barbados, which was ruled by the brutal Arasmas Wilde. Luckily, Wash was chosen at a young age to be a manservant of Arasmas' brother, Christopher "Titch" Wilde, who was an easy going naturalist and an abolitionist, but hardly anything is mentioned about it in the story. Wash would learn to draw and become quite the artist that would serve him well later in life when he does eventually find his freedom in London.

When it looks like Wash could be blamed for the death of Philip, the Wildes' cousin, Titch decides now is the time to test his Cloud-cutter and leave Barbados with the young boy, Wash. The story was pretty good up until this point, then it began to dry up and the storyline seemed to be reaching.

They didn't make it too far, when an hour into their flight, they came upon a storm that sent the hot air machine plummeting down and, by chance, onto a passing sailing vessel in the middle of the ocean. Here, they took the vessel to Norfolk, Virginia. They did not stay long in Virginia because their was a $1000 reward put out by Arasmas on Wash, dead or alive. Here, Titch also finds out that his father, who had been researching in the Artics for a few years, may actually still be alive. So, they board another vessel and head to the Artics. And yes, his father is alive.

Here, Titch deserts Wash and leaves him in his fathers care and walks out into a blinding snowstorm. Wash stays for a little time but needs a warmer climate, so he heads out and next thing you know, he's made it to Novia Scotia, where blacks are free. There, he finds love. But, the Goff family live in London and have to head bavk, so Wash travels back to London to live and invents the first living ocean aquarium called the Ocean House.

Wash spends the rest of his time searching for the elusive Titch and finally finds him in Morroco. There, they finally meet up. Wash wants answers of why Titch deserted him. Honestly, I just didn't understand the end of the story. Titch has some lame excuse about he and his brother, Arasmas, torturing and bullying their cousin, Philip, who had gone to Barbados to visit and committed suicide alone with and in front of Wash. Ooookaaaay!

Just a surface story! They claim this is historical fiction, but not in my opinion. The only thing even remotely true about this story is the idea of a slave learning to live on his own once he is free. I felt nothing for none of the characters
( )
  MissysBookshelf | Aug 27, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 131 (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 (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Edugyan, Esiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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.
Quotations
I had not thought he bore any sort of relation to the master, but now the resemblance rose to sight, like a watermark: the brisk, bright-coloured eyes, the oddly plump lower lips, the way each man punctuated the ends of certain phrases with a languid sweep of the hand, as if the gesture were being performed underwater.
"I will never understand why you seek offence in everything I say. It is only the two of us here, and I have come for a limited stay. Would our time not be better enjoyed if we tried to understand each other?"
My voice seemed to stick to my ribs.
I was surprised by his great need to talk, as though he had gone several years without companionship.
But no secret can be kept for long. It is one of the truths of this world.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.

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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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