Washington Black by Esi EdugyanWashington Black by Esi Edugyansticker-burst

Washington Black

byEsi Edugyan

Paperback | April 9, 2019

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Winner of the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize

A dazzling, original novel of slavery and freedom, from the author of the international bestseller Half-Blood Blues

When two English brothers arrive at a Barbados sugar plantation, they bring with them a darkness beyond what the slaves have already known. Washington Black – an eleven year-old field slave – is horrified to find himself chosen to live in the quarters of one of these men. But the man is not as Washington expects him to be. His new master is the eccentric Christopher Wilde – naturalist, explorer, inventor and abolitionist – whose obsession to perfect a winged flying machine disturbs all who know him. Washington is initiated into a world of wonder: a world where the night sea is set alight with fields of jellyfish, where a simple cloth canopy can propel 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 one fateful night, Washington is left to the mercy of his new masters. Christopher Wilde must choose between family ties and young Washington's life. What follows is a flight along the eastern coast of America, as the men attempt to elude the bounty that has been placed on Washington's head. Their journey opens them up to the extraordinary: to a dark encounter with a necropsicist, a scholar of the flesh; to a voyage aboard a vessel captained by a hunter of a different kind; to a glimpse through an unexpected portal into the Underground Railroad. This is a novel of fraught bonds and betrayal. What brings Wilde and Washington together ultimately tears them apart, leaving Washington to seek his true self in a world that denies his very existence.

From the blistering cane fields of Barbados to the icy plains of the Canadian Arctic, from the mud-drowned streets of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black teems with all the strangeness of life. This inventive, electrifying novel asks, What is Freedom? And can a life salvaged from the ashes ever be made whole?

Title:Washington BlackFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:432 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.08 inShipping dimensions:9 × 6 × 1.08 inPublished:April 9, 2019Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1443459585

ISBN - 13:9781443459587

Reviews

Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing despite the strong start 2.5/5 stars. I’m usually interested in picking up novels by contemporary Canadian authors, so after all the noise that ensued the release of Esi Edugyan’s last book I was intrigued. The first part started really well and I enjoyed reading about Wash (short for Washington Black) and the chance he was given to escape his miserable existence as a slave boy and develop his great talents. However, the more the story progressed, the more illogical and implausible the plot development turned out to be. A lot of incredible events happened simply because the plot needed them to happen and the un(timely) demise or survival of some of the characters didn’t help to make the story line more believable. At some point I had the feeling I was reading ‘the fantastical adventures of Washington Black’ – something I definitely didn’t expect when I picked the book. I started to lose interest in the whole thing since the author, for me, wasn’t sure where all this was going, or what her main character really wanted and what drove and motivated him. To finish on a positive note, I liked Edugyan’s writing quite a lot and might give one of her other books a try at some point.
Date published: 2019-10-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Deserves a large readership Esi Edugyan is an entertaining and brilliant author well worth the investment of a reader's precious time. Her latest novel continues her legacy and gives us a credible and memorable character in the novel's protagonist 'Washington Black.' While exposing the cruelty and evil that is slavery, the novel affirms that kindness, friendship and encouragement can transform a person with nothing into a person of talent and courage and understanding. Edugyan's observant eye provides unique and memorable descriptions that spill out onto the pages of the novel like "on a wooden block notched by scratches, sat a half-cut red pepper, spilling its seeds." While thoroughly entertained and educated throughout the saga of Washington's life as a slave and his apparent escape to freedom, I was disappointed with the ending. Unresolved, troubled,ambiguous, somewhat melancholy? I certainly felt Washington deserved a cleaner and clearer end to his search, or at least a stronger indication that Tanna would be capable of saving him from himself. I wanted things tied up more meaningfully and more realistically. The book delivered 99% of the time and I suggest it will for you as well. Now if only the ending...?
Date published: 2019-07-13