SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2018 MAN BOOKER PRIZE WINNER OF THE GILLER PRIZE FINALIST FOR THE CARNEGIE MEDAL AND THE ROGERS WRITERS TRUST FICTION PRIZE
FROM THE MAN BOOKER AND ORANGE PRIZE SHORTLISTED AUTHOR OF HALF BLOOD BLUES
New York Times Top Ten Book of the Year 2018
'A masterpiece' Attica Locke
'High adventure fraught with cliffhanger twists mark this runaway-slave narrative, which leaps, sails, and soars ... broadens inventive possibilities for the antebellum novel' Kirkus starred review
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.
Washington Black is nothing short of a masterpiece. Esi Edugyan has a rare talent for turning over little known stones of history and giving her reader a new lens on the world, a new way of understanding subject matter we arrogantly think we know everything about. This book is an epic adventure and a heartfelt tale about love and morality and their many contradictions. I loved it. (Attica Locke)
Washington Black is a gripping tale, made vivid by Esi Edugyan's gifts for language and character, and by the strength of her story... The reader feels honoured and moved to have kept Wash company on his journeying (Erica Wagner New Statesman 2018-08-15)
Strong, beautiful and beguiling. (Arifa Akbar Observer 2018-08-19)
At the core of this novel, with its searing, supple prose and superb characters, is a visceral depiction of the abomination of slavery. Yet, as importantly, it explores an unlikely friendship, the limits to understanding another's suffering, the violence lurking in humans and the glories of adventure in a world full of wonders. (Elizabeth Buchan Daily Mail 2018-08-10)
A story suggestive of Jules Verne, Mark Twain and Mary Shelley ... a strange, engaging tale (Jeffrey Burke Mail on Sunday 2018-08-12)
An extraordinary, picturesque tale... A richly entertaining read (BBC History)
Washington Black is an intimate portrait of slavery at its most genocidal and of the limitations of kindness in an unjust system. The book's hero is a gifted scientist and artist fighting to live a fully human life in a world that insists on seeing him either as livestock or as an object of pity. Along the way, there are balloon rides through storms at sea, vignettes of frontier life in 19th century Canada, scenes of polar exploration, and the establishment of the world's first aquarium. Washington Black is a brilliantly absorbing picaresque; a book that combines the unflinching depiction of violence with a lyrical, hallucinatory beauty. (Sandra Newman)
Washington Black is a profoundly humane story about false idols, the fickleness of fortune and whether a slave, once freed, can ever truly be free. (The Times)
Wondrous ... gripping ... vivid and captivating (Economist 2018-09-28)
Edugyan displays as much ingenuity and resourcefulness as her main characters ... A thoughtful, boldly imagined book that broadens inventive possibilities for the antebellum novel (starred Kirkus review)