Washington Black

Washington Black

A Novel

eBook - 2018
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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?
Publisher: [S.l.]: HarperCollins Canada, 2018
ISBN: 9781443423403
Characteristics: 432 p
Additional Contributors: cloudLibrary

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May 13, 2019

Easy to read, popular fiction, like a movie but a book, limited vocabulary, almost all-male cast. Entertaining, like a Reader's Digest story, but longer. Not literary fiction, more suited to children than adults.

May 04, 2019

different kind of book, got caught up in story, well written of course. recommend

Apr 21, 2019

The strange quest of a young black man through many lands as he attempts to survive and find meaning in his life. The story is sometimes shockingly brutal. Wash is deeply touched by several people in his life, until he finally comes upon the man who started him on the journey of his life! Set in the 1830 during the slave trade , which was abolished in England but not in America! Richly told with unforgettable characters.

Apr 01, 2019

This is a fascinating combination of the old and the new. It is a historical novel that roams around the Americas and England in the nineteenth century - sure we have a lot of excellent novels that do that. This novel's narrator is a man enslaved in Barbados who becomes an assistant to a white balloonist. Race relations then are of course a factor in the events and characterization in the novel. They are never preached about or singled out. They do not have to be - they are a part of the cards culture and society deal to the characters in the novel. This is Esi Edugyan's second novel. her first about jazz, Nazi Germany, and other things, I have just started. In "Washington Black", she weaves fascinating description that has just enough details to keep the reader involved and wanting to read ahead. Profound emotions we all experience, are described precisely: "I understood, in that terrible moment, the terrible bottomless nature of the open world, when one belongs nowhere, and to no one." Wash's drive to re-unite with his white mentor reaches a conclusion that seems inevitable, but leaves the reader with questions as well as some answers.

Mar 15, 2019

NYT 10 Best 2018

Mar 13, 2019

A wonderful novel. My first by this author, but it reminded me of Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes.

Mar 04, 2019


ArapahoeAnnaL Feb 19, 2019

One of the New York Times' 10 best of 2018, this stunning historical novel is fabulous from the point of view of the writing (gorgeously descriptive), the characters (poignant), and plot (journey of a boy from brutal slavery to freedom, love, intellectual adventure).

Feb 06, 2019

This title begs for a sequel. What happened to the little guy who expected nothing but ended up living and learning big?
Anymore family legacy attached ?

Jan 24, 2019

why enslavement, why freedom, why abandonment, why love - why me?
one of the best novels about enslavement that I have read
I also recommend The Polished Hoe by Austin Clark
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

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Apr 06, 2019

Too brutal, too disturbing - not bedtime reading.

Sep 12, 2018

Born into slavery on Faith Plantation in Bardbados, George Washington Black has never known any other life. When his master dies, the slaves expect the estate to be broken up and sold off, but instead two brother arrive, nephews of the old owner. Erasmus Wilde proves to be a cruel man who drives his slaves harder than the old owner ever did. But his brother, Christopher “Titch” Wilde, is a man of science, and while the other slaves on Faith are doomed to a harder lot, Wash is selected to help Titch with his experiments, and his seemingly impossible dream to launch an airship called the Cloud Cutter. However, being selected as Titch’s assistant will come at a price Wash could never have expected, and their strange, uneven relationship will change the course of Wash’s life forever, for better and for worse.


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Sep 12, 2018

I carried that nail like a shard of darkness in my fist. I carried it like a secret, like a crack through which some impossible future might be glimpsed. I carried it like a key.

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