Washington Black’s story begins as an 11-year-old slave who is taken in by the plantation owner’s brother, Titch, and, after incurring a burn that leaves his face disfigured and then witnessing a tragic event for which he is blamed, "Wash" is urgently sent out into the greater world by way of a hot air balloon. What follows is a wondrous, harrowing journey spanning continents as Titch and Wash struggle to leave the ghosts of their past behind, immersing themselves in scientific invention and discovery. Both arresting and defying categorization, Esi Edugyan gives us a sagaciously crafted, deeply inspired novel unlike any other. Recommended By Aubrey W., Powells.com
I don't remember the last time I've been so suddenly and convincingly landed in a book. A young slave with a talent for scientific illustration escapes bondage only to find that the wider world is both perilous and full of wonder. Written in a style evocative of Victorian adventure tales, this novel is like a smarter, more grown-up Treasure Island. Recommended By Eva F., Powells.com
This stunning book kept me guessing at every turn. It begins on a sugar plantation in Barbados, when an 11-year-old slave, Wash, is plucked from his unrelenting work by his master's brother to be his own assistant. Titch is a scientist, and Wash's life is about to dramatically change. Picking apart themes of prejudice, cruelty, freedom, abandonment, family, home, love, and forgiveness, Esi Edugyan's gorgeous story is full of complex, layered characters, edge-of-your-seat suspense, and what it means to be a human being. Wash's determination to have the questions of his life answered is a profound road map to living a meaningful life. So precisely and meticulously written, with a heart-wrenching, terrifying, and redemptive story, Washington Black is a story you will never forget. Absolutely brilliant. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
One of the TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR New York Times Book Review
One of the Best Books of the Year
The Boston Globe ● The Washington Post ● Time ● Entertainment Weekly ● San Francisco Chronicle ● Financial Times ● Minneapolis Star Tribune ● NPR ● The Economist ● Bustle ● The Dallas Morning News ● Slate ● Kirkus Reviews
One of Barack Obama's Favorite Books of the Year
Eleven-year-old George Washington Black — or Wash — a field slave on a Barbados sugar plantation, is initially terrified when he is chosen as the manservant of his master's brother. To his surprise, however, 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, they must abandon everything and flee together. Over the course of their travels, what brings Wash and Christopher together will tear them apart, propelling Wash ever farther across the globe in search of his true self. Spanning the Caribbean to the frozen Far North, London to Morocco, Washington Black is a story of self-invention and betrayal, of love and redemption, and of a world destroyed and made whole again.
"Brutal, magical, urgent and exuberant." Minneapolis Star Tribune
"A thoughtful, boldly imagined ripsnorter that broadens inventive possibilities for the antebellum novel." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Imaginative and dynamic....With equal parts terror, adventure and humanity, Washington Black reads like a dream collaboration between Jules Verne and Colson Whitehead." The Dallas Morning News
“Perfectly executed....Soaring....More than a tale of human bondage, it’s also an enthralling meditation on the weight of freedom, wrapped in a rousing adventure story stretching to the ends of the earth.” The Boston Globe
About the Author
Esi Edugyan is author of the novels The Second Life of Samuel Tyne and Half-Blood Blues, which won the Scotiabank Giller Prize, was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize, the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the Orange Prize. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia.