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Publisher's Summary

A dazzling, original novel of slavery and freedom, from the author of the international best seller Half-Blood Blues

Longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize

When two English brothers arrive at a Barbados sugar plantation, they bring with them a darkness beyond what the slaves have already known. Washington Black - an 11-year-old field slave - is horrified to find himself chosen to live in the quarters of one of these men. But the man is not as Washington expects him to be. His new master is the eccentric Christopher Wilde - naturalist, explorer, inventor and abolitionist - whose obsession to perfect a winged flying machine disturbs all who know him. Washington is initiated into a world of wonder: a world where the night sea is set alight with fields of jellyfish, where a simple cloth canopy can propel 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 one fateful night, Washington is left to the mercy of his new masters. Christopher Wilde must choose between family ties and young Washington's life. What follows is a flight along the eastern coast of America, as the men attempt to elude the bounty that has been placed on Washington's head. Their journey opens them up to the extraordinary: to a dark encounter with a necropsicist, a scholar of the flesh; to a voyage aboard a vessel captained by a hunter of a different kind; to a glimpse through an unexpected portal into the Underground Railroad. This is a novel of fraught bonds and betrayal. What brings Wilde and Washington together ultimately tears them apart, leaving Washington to seek his true self in a world that denies his very existence.

From the blistering cane fields of Barbados to the icy plains of the Canadian Arctic, from the mud-drowned streets of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black teems with all the strangeness of life. This inventive, electrifying novel asks, What is freedom? And can a life salvaged from the ashes ever be made whole?

©2018 Ides of March, Inc. (P)2018 Penguin Random House

Hear the Author Read an Excerpt

At Between the Pages: An Evening with the Scotiabank Giller Prize in Toronto on November 4, 2018, author Esi Edugyan read an excerpt from her novel Washington Black.
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  • Overall
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Great Read!

Didn't put it down. Highly recommend. If you like historical drama you'll love this novel.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Awesome!

The characters and story are alive , compelling and sweeping. An amazing experience. A tad of love, science and depravation as the world is struggling to mature. Timeless.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Brilliant storytelling and narration

Esi Edugyan is an amazing writer. I loved “Half-blood Blues” and hew new novel - “Washington Black “ - is just as well-written. She creates characters that are complex and believable. And the story is engrossing, so much so that I had difficulty putting the book down (rather to stop listening!).
The narration was excellent! Dion Graham does a wonderful job of distinguishing characters and capturing the mood and energy of the story. My one critique is that sometimes the narration was too low in volume.

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I loved this book!

Esi Edugyan writes like no one else. Her rich descriptive powers and her thrilling or terrifying or tragic scenes hold you in their urgency from beginning to end. You care deeply about Wash from the first page in what is a very complex epic. I needed a week or so to think about the book before trying to praise it. There is so much to appreciate one cannot be specific without spoiling the story.

So all I'll say is--listen to this rare and stunning book! Let it take you through an unforgettable experience of emotion, shock, love, adventure, surprise, tenderness and ambiguity of nuance that hits you slowly for days after the end.

Esi Edugyan is an author deserving of all the awards she's been short-listed to receive!

Dion Graham is fabulous in his huge palette of characters in performing this huge work. He had me on the edge of my seat, often with tears streaming down my face or breathless from what I didn't see coming.

Esi Edugyan's WASHINGTON BLACK performed by Dion Graham--does it get any better than this?! Bravo to both!

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Perfect book for someone who spends a lot of time on the road

A beautifully written love story between a teacher and his pupil. Love of the highest and purest nature.
A long journey that takes the listener to many corners of the world - from blazing heat to blistering cold. On the journey the listener gets to know and better understand the dysfunctional characters

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Fabulous story!

Esi Edugyan is a talented writer who has crafted another stellar story! I highly recommend this book!