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Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
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Washington Black (edition 2019)

by Esi Edugyan (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,6771118,129 (3.92)228
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)
Member:guelphblackheritage
Title:Washington Black
Authors:Esi Edugyan (Author)
Info:Vintage (2019), Edition: Reprint, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
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Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

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» See also 228 mentions

English (109)  German (1)  All languages (110)
Showing 1-5 of 109 (next | show all)
Washington Black was born a slave on a Barbados sugar cane plantation. Even as a young child, his days under slavery were brutal.

But after the old master passed away, his master’s younger son, Titch, took an interest in Wash. Titch deemed Wash as the right ballast weight for his ‘cloud cutter’ flying machine, a lighter than air vehicle filled with hydrogen gas.

Titch is a scientific dilettante. Wash slowly develops an amazing talent illustrating Titch’s sea creatures and scientific plans.

Forced to use the cloud-cutter to attempt an escape from Barbados, they wander the world, together and separately.

I have trouble connecting the first part of the book where Wash is a slave to the second part, where he searches for his post slavery destiny. Several reviewers connect this second part with the first by saying that Wash (and even the white characters) find freedom hard to find. This just doesn’t ring true to me, since the realities of slavery don’t compare with the vagaries of searching for freedom in a non-slave life. ( )
  streamsong | Jan 21, 2022 |
Amazing and engrossing. Occasionally unnecessarily dense, but really wonderful ( )
  Venarain | Jan 10, 2022 |
Expansive page turning novel journeying from the sugarcane plantations of Barbados to the Arctic. I really wanted there to be more than one strong character, but still a great read. ( )
  spuddybuddy | Jan 1, 2022 |
I have somewhat mixed feelings about this one. I'd say it's 'all over the place', sometimes literally lol.
I'm reading the reviews now and seeing that many people lost interest in the last part. Well, for me it was the other way around.
It started out pretty strong, and I expected some kind of typical drama fiction (the kind i like), probably about slavery and liberation, but then it took an unexpected turn into the adventure land with hot air balloons and trips to the Arctic. And that's just too Jules Verne for me and just too boring.
So the next part, when all this mess was finally left behind, was actually a relief, and the story became interesting again.
Unfortunately though, when the book ended, when I read the last paragraph, I was left a little... confused. It didn't feel 'complete', like - what was the point? Of the story in general and of the story ending exactly there? I guess, that open ending felt just a little too open for me, and it lacked a conclusion of some sort, a closure.
So all in all, I liked the book but I wish the story was pieced together a little tighter and was just a little more. ( )
  alissee | Dec 8, 2021 |
This remarkable journey of a an 11 year old boy out of slavery is inspiring and informative. I loved the book. ( )
  JanEPat | Dec 7, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 109 (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.
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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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