Washington Black

Washington Black

Book - 2018
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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. To his surprise, the eccentric Christopher 'Titch' Wilde is a naturalist, explorer, inventor and abolitionist, and he wants Washington to help him create the perfect aerial machine.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2018
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780525521426
Branch Call Number: FIC Edug
Characteristics: 333 pages


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Jan 16, 2019

I’m usually interested in picking up novels by contemporary Canadian authors, so after all the noise that ensued the release of Esi Edugyan’s last book I was intrigued.
The first part started really well and I enjoyed reading about Wash (short for Washington Black) and the chance he was given to escape his miserable existence as a slave boy and develop his great talents.
However, the more the story progressed, the more illogical and implausible the plot development turned out to be. A lot of incredible events happened simply because the plot needed them to happen and the un(timely) demise or survival of some of the characters didn’t help to make the storyline more believable. At some point I had the feeling I was reading ‘the fantastical adventures of Washington Black’ – something I definitely didn’t expect when I picked the book. I started to lose interest in the whole thing since the author, for me, wasn’t sure where all this was going, or what her main character really wanted and what drove and motivated him.
To finish on a positive note, I liked Edugyan’s writing quite a lot and might give one of her other books a try at some point.

Jan 14, 2019

A gripping story of a young slave boy born on a Barbados sugar plantation. George Washington Black was "mothered" by a woman named Big Kit, but treated him poorly yet seemed to love him. By strange circumstance, he is taken under wing by Christopher Wilde, called Titch, the younger brother of the plantation owner. Titch is obsessed with science and a form of hot air balloon. When Wash, as he is called sees the suicide of a friend of the Wilde's, Titch decides he and Wash need to leave. From here the adventures begin taking them to American, on to the Arctic, then Nova Scotia, and finally to England.

The story is a bit of a stretch in places, yet totally believable which is due to the skill of the writer. Told from Wash's point of view, the reader begins to understand the hopeless situation that he was in as well as others in slavery, indeed the entire Black race.

It is in the Arctic that Titch seemingly leaves Wash stranded with Titch's dying father and a strange mute named Peter House. Wash cannot understand and is heartbroken at the loss of Titch and spends almost the rest of his life searching for him while he himself is running from a slave hunter and his own past.

This is a well written, interesting, and engaging novel. I had to reread the ending and still am not quite sure, but still a very enjoyable book.

Jan 05, 2019

Obama's List

Jan 03, 2019

An interesting, unusual and smoothly flowing read!

Dec 29, 2018

On Barack Obama's Top Books of 2018

Dec 23, 2018

Beautifully written story of slavery in the Caribbean islands. A young talented slave is recruited to work for the brother of the owner of the plantation. It is discovered that he has artistic talent, and after a series of problems, the brother escapes taking the slave with him in a hot air balloon. They endure a series of interesting experiences, several close calls with death. I found the writing very compelling. I highly recommend this book. It was on the New York Times list of the best books of the 2018 calendar year. It was one of five novels selected for that honor.

Dec 22, 2018

Tale of a boy's rescue from the horrors of slavery and his eventual growth into a prodigy of sorts. Very well written. I highly reccommend it.

Dec 21, 2018

One of the best books I've read ever...there is depth to the characters, the story is wide-ranging and the sense of place is compelling. Highly recommended. "Washington Black" has won the Giller Prize for 2018 and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize of the same year.

Dec 18, 2018

A very engaging read and her best book yet.

Dec 16, 2018

One of the best books I've read this year. Beautifully crafted sentence structure, a very gifted writer. I loved how I could sense and feel like I was in the exact physical spaces she was describing as the story moved along. She definitely deserved the Giller for this outstanding book!

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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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