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Washington Black
Cover of Washington Black
Washington Black
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Washington Black is an eleven year-old field slave on a sugar plantation in Barbados. The eccentric Christopher 'Titch' Wilde is one of the owners. He is an 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. Then Titch disappears and Washington must make his way alone, following the promise of freedom further than he ever dreamed possible.
Washington Black is an eleven year-old field slave on a sugar plantation in Barbados. The eccentric Christopher 'Titch' Wilde is one of the owners. He is an 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. Then Titch disappears and Washington must make his way alone, following the promise of freedom further than he ever dreamed possible.
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Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine This memorable audiobook takes a young slave from captivity to freedom as narrator Dion Graham wrings every heartfelt emotion from the story. Edugyan's work embodies the fear and brutality of 1800s slavery, using beautifully turned phrases and clear-eyed observations--which Graham takes to another level--to give voice to the horror and high adventure of Washington Black's life. Graham modulates the tension in his voice as a single fateful event causes Black and his mentor to leave the plantation and traverse the globe. Graham lets the characters mature in his delivery as Washington travels from the steamy sugar cane fields of Barbados to the arctic plains of Canada. Listeners will be rooting for this most unlikely of heroes. R.O. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award � AudioFile 2018, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 9, 2018
    Edugyan’s magnificent third novel (after Half-Blood Blues) again demonstrates her range and gifts. Eleven-year-old slave George Washington Black cuts sugar cane on a Barbados plantation owned by a sadistic Englishman named Erasmus Wilde until Wilde’s scientist brother, Titch, visits in 1830 to work on the experimental airship he calls Cloud-cutter. Titch makes Wash his servant because the boy’s weight makes suitable ballast for Cloud-cutter, teaches Wash to read, and nurtures his gift for scientific thought and illustration. As Wash is transformed—and confused—by Titch’s tutelage, Erasmus becomes increasingly punitive toward him. Titch, afraid for his protégé’s life, devises a risky nighttime escape on Cloud-cutter, which collides with the masts of a ship bound for Virginia. After arriving there, the two head northward, getting as far as the Arctic before Titch, insisting that Wash stay behind, strikes out into the snow for reasons Wash cannot understand. Not knowing whether Titch is alive or dead, Wash continues his travels and scientific work. But he feels compelled to find out Titch’s fate and learn why his mentor rejected him. Framing the story with rich evocations of the era’s science and the world it studies, Edugyan mines the tensions between individual goodwill and systemic oppression, belonging and exclusion, wonder and terror, and human and natural order. The novel’s patience feels essential: the characters’ many passages from painful endings to tentative rebirths are necessarily slow and searching. Crafted in supple, nuanced prose, Edugyan’s novel is both searing and beautiful.

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