Washington Black

Washington Black

A Novel

Book - 2018
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Washington Black is an eleven-year-old field slave who knows no other life than the Barbados sugar plantation where he was born. When his master's eccentric brother chooses him to be his manservant, Wash is terrified of the cruelties he is certain await him. But Christopher Wilde, or "Titch," is a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor, and abolitionist. He initiates Wash into a world where a flying machine can carry a man across the sky; where two people, separated by an impossible divide, might begin to see each other as human; and where a boy born in chains can embrace a life of dignity and meaning. But when a man is killed and a bounty is placed on Wash's head, Titch abandons everything to save him. What follows is their flight along the eastern coast of America, and, finally, to a remote outpost in the Arctic, where Wash, left on his own, must invent another new life.
Publisher: New York, New York : Patrick Crean Editions, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishersLtd, ©2018.
ISBN: 9781443423397
Characteristics: 419 pages ;,24 cm.


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Jul 18, 2019

A beautifully written tale of fantastical adventure that eloquently explores the human condition. Would have been a solid five stars, if not for the closing sentences.

Jul 07, 2019

The 2 stars are for the first, excellent 100 pages or so. We are introduced to our title character and narrator, an 11-year old slave on a Barbados plantation. The pacing, character development, and horrible tension are pitch-perfect. However, things go very downhill for the next 3/4 of the book. It becomes all tell and no show, and all from a narrator who becomes increasingly (and almost laughably) unbelievable -- and not in some unreliable narrator way, but in a poorly-conceived way. The coincidences and twists of fate are ridiculous. I found myself often saying "Wait... what??" And especially disappointing after the strong beginning and the very often beautiful writing. Sorry for the lack of details but the very idea of trying to explain the far-flying plot exhausts me.

My daughter tells me that I read this book with an expression that was "mostly confused but kind of pissed off too." Bingo.

Jun 30, 2019

Never before have I both loved and loathed a book, yet here I find myself; conflicted and confused. The majority of this novel is a treat but the ending goes out - not with a bang - but with a "meh".

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Jun 11, 2019

An interesting read...ultimately, it felt like the relationships between George Washington Black and Christopher Wilde was an allegory of the systemic relationship between "blackness" and "whiteness."

Jun 01, 2019

The book is a very entertaining read that held my attention, but I don’t understand the hype. The plot relies on too many convenient and contrived encounters to move the story along. The first half of the book on the plantation and early travels is the strongest; the last third is a travelogue that ends opaquely.

May 29, 2019

Tuesday February 25, 2020 Conifer Book Club

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.

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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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