Everyday through December I’m publishing a blog post with a short review of one of my favourite books of 2019. Then I will publish a post with my favourite top ten at the beginning of January.
Today it’s Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
When two English brothers take the helm of a Barbados sugar plantation, Washington Black – an eleven year-old field slave – finds himself selected as personal servant to one of these men. The eccentric Christopher ‘Titch’ Wilde is a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor and abolitionist, whose single-minded pursuit of the perfect aerial machine mystifies all around him.
Titch’s idealistic plans are soon shattered and Washington finds himself in mortal danger. They escape the island together, but then then Titch disappears and Washington must make his way alone, following the promise of freedom further than he ever dreamed possible.
From the blistering cane fields of Barbados to the icy wastes of the Canadian Arctic, from the mud-drowned streets of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black teems with all the strangeness and mystery of life. Inspired by a true story, Washington Black is the extraordinary tale of a world destroyed and made whole again.
The magical thing about this book, is that it is part adventure story and part, a tale about the search for freedom, even after the shackles of slavery have been escaped. It talks of how Washington Black taken away from the crippling cruelty of the plantation, still finds himself trapped by the damage slavery has done to him, so dependant on Titch the brother of the plantation owner, that he seems forever in search of the man that freed him. It is both moving, thrilling and a deeply telling tale of the devastation wrought by slavery on those it exploited.
About the author
Esi Edugyan is a Canadian novelist. She has twice won the Giller Prize, for her novels Half-Blood Blues and Washington Black.