Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Washington Black

Esi Edugyan

From the blistering cane fields of the Caribbean to the frozen Far North, Washington Black tells a story of a boy rising from slavery and a tale of self-invention and betrayal, of love and redemption.

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TOP TEN BOOK OF THE YEAR: Washington Post, TIME magazine


"Enthralling" --Boston Globe  "Extraordinary" --Seattle Times  "A rip-roaring tale" --Washington Post

From the author of the award-winning international best seller Half-Blood Blues comes a dazzling adventure story, about a boy who rises from the ashes of slavery to become a free man of the world.

George Washington Black, or "Wash," an eleven-year-old field slave on a Barbados sugar plantation, is terrified to be chosen by his master's brother as his manservant. To his surprise, 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, Christopher and Wash must abandon everything. What follows is their flight along the eastern coast of America, and, finally, to a remote outpost in the Arctic. What brings Christopher and Wash together will tear them apart, propelling Wash even further across the globe in search of his true self. From the blistering cane fields of the Caribbean to the frozen Far North, from the earliest aquariums of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black tells a story of self-invention and betrayal, of love and redemption, of a world destroyed and made whole again, and asks the question, What is true freedom?

Advance Galley Reviews

".....freedom seemed a thing I might live in, like a coat, a warmth I could draw around myself as some armour against the world." If you are George Washington (Wash) Black, freedom may just leave you adrift in the world. This book takes Wash from 1830 to 1836, from the age of 12 to 18. It starts on a sugar plantation on the island of Barbados and ends in Marrakesh. I was expecting another story about the horrors of slavery, but then it surprised me and went off in other directions. It had plenty of those horrors, especially at the beginning of the book, but this was also a story of loyalty, betrayal, love, guilt, adventure, creativity and the baggage everyone carries around whether they were born a slave or have always been free. Wash was a 12 year old field slave living with his surrogate mother Kit on the plantation owned by the loathsome Erasmus Wilde. One day Christopher (Titch) Wilde asks his brother Erasmus if he can borrow Wash to act as manservant and assist him with his scientific explorations, including the perfection of a hot air balloon he calls the Cloud-cutter. Wash's life is changed forever by this "borrowing". "My life had been one life before he had taken me up; this he had wrenched off course into a thing of wonder and then loneliness and destitution." Titch teaches Wash how to read and write and it turns out he has remarkable drawing skills as well as a facility for science. After several tragic events on Barbados, Titch and Wash have to flee with a bounty on their heads and a slave hunter trailing them. The two are eventually separated and Wash continues on, trying to claim his place in the world. They are both very interesting characters, bearing scars you can't necessarily see. I loved the author's writing style, even the very strange and abrupt ending of the book, and I would like to read more by her. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Washington Black was an excellent book based on the relationship of young slave and Christopher Wilde a member of the family who owned him. The book is very explicit in covering the extreme brutality and harshness of the system of slavery and the separations of the families. Washington Black escaped the plantation with Christopher as a young boy however he never felt free with a bounty on he head. The book is well written and compelling as it unfolds. The development of the characters is a mark of a good author. Washington searches for Christopher seeking answers to what he feels as abandonment due to the lack of family ties as a result of being enslaved. I highly recommend this book .

In Washington Black, Esi Edugyan has taken on one of history’s most controversial subjects: slavery. The novel is told from the viewpoint of George Washington Black, a young slave on a plantation in Barbados and follows him from his childhood through young adulthood. Wash, as he is called, lives the life of a “privileged” fugitive following a traumatic event on the plantation where he was born. He travels from the plantation to the African desert with many intervening stops. Each destination brings dramatic changes to Wash’s life. The characters were so beautifully rendered, they seemed to come to life in my living room. I truly enjoyed this novel, though I initially thought that I would not. I was, however, disappointed with the ending. All in all this was a wonderful read. I was chosen to read an advance copy of this book as part of Penguin's First to Read program. However, the opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine and mine alone.

There are several kinds of happiness, Washington. Sometimes it is not for us to choose, or even understand the one granted to us” - ‘Washington Black’ by Esi Edugyan. Wow! What a book! As I have a toddler, I can only read after she goes to bed. I started reading “Washington Black” by Esi Edugyan last night and it was so good I couldn’t put it down. I ended up reading until dawn, until I finished it. This is one Man Booker Prize shortlisted novel you need to pick up. It is the story of a young boy, borne a slave in Barbados in a plantation in the early 1800s. The brother of the plantation owner is a scientist looking to test a sort of balloon-meets-flying machine and enlist the boy, around 11 years old at the time and confined to the fields, as his personal assistant. He educated him and sets him out in an adventure that will take him from the Caribbean half around the world. One thing I loved about this book is not only how well it sums up white privilege and how blinding it is to white people even with the best intentions (savior complex anybody?), but that it is so unpredictable. You just cannot possibly phantom where the next page will take you, and that makes it page turning. It is so moving and a powerful reminder of our daily privilege, if we are white or not, for we were born free.

An interesting read. A vast period of history starting with slavery in Barbados, then moving on the world with other important historical events. Delayed reading this book but so glad I did

Washington Black was an excellent novel. While we all know intellectually that slavery is a horrible and brutal thing, by telling the story from the point of view of a young boy who was born a slave, and never expected anything else. Edugyan brings the reality of it to life in a new way. He really shows the horrible impact of slavery on the enslaved man's soul - not just on his body. He effectively illustrates how one learns to strive to be as overlooked as the furniture. It's a spot on reminder of man's inhumanity to man - and one we should all remember.

Thank you to First To Read and Penguin Random House for the ARC of Washington Black. It's the story of a young slave in the Barbados cane fields and his adventures throughout his life. It is a somewhat non-realist story written into a very real historical time. It is written by Esi Edugyan in such a way it is an enjoyable and interesting read. I so loved her writing style, I'm adding her past books to my very long to be read list. I really recommend this book.

3.25 stars Thank you to Penguin's First To Read program and Patrick Crean Editions for allowing me to read and review this digital ARC. To publish August 28. 2018. Washington Black - George Washington Black - Wash - was born a slave. He was first mentored and protected by Kit on the Faith Plantation in Barbados. Plantation owner Erasmus Wilde, a vile heartless man, soon let his brother Christopher temporarily take Wash as a personal assistant. Christopher, aka Titch, a man of science, taught Wash his numbers and to read. In the interim he saw what a great natural artist Wash was. As time moved forward Christopher and Wash were forced to leave the plantation and opted to take a 'balloon' of Christopher's making. They soon had to put down in a storm - they landed out at sea, on a ship. This began the voyage that Wash took, which saw him in America and also the Arctic. It was there that Wash lost Christopher and at 16 had to make his way all alone. Needless to say that is by far not where this story ends. However soon after Wash goes on his way alone I had the feeling that the story changed. I felt like the writing changed. The feeling that the story had maybe been put down and at this point was picked back up, possibly years later, to be finished. The story itself continued, almost without a hitch, but the writing itself appeared to have changed. I was much less absorbed from this point on. There were a few good chapters past this point, and a couple worthwhile characters were also introduced. However over all, from this point on my attentiveness became less. I also did not care for the ending of this story. After being so engaged with Wash and his life, at least in the first portion of the novel, it felt like a let down. Like the author just ran out of ideas and that was that. Abrupt end. I understand that this book was long listed for the 2018 Booker Prize. Hmm. Not sure it would be my pick.

Young Washington Black, Wash, was born into slavery on the Faith sugar plantation in Barbados. With a setting of the 1820’s and 1830’s, one of the plantation owners, Twitch, acquired young Wash for the purpose of helping with Twitch’s scientific research. The story extended to other countries, where Twitch and Wash fleed from the plantation. Throughout the novel, there was a mild to moderate feeling of suspense, not knowing if Wash would gain true freedom. The novel is a worthy Man Booker Prize nomination.

I really wish I could get into this one. I really wanted to love it because everything I heard about it was that it was a really good But I couldn’t. I put it down when I was reading it and never got the urge to find out what happened next. Maybe one day, I’ll go back.

Wow. What an incredible story! It felt real, heart wrenching, emotional and so compelling. However, about halfway through the book, it kinda felt like the story was.... stalling and going around in circles rather than progressing.... Nonetheless, a magnificent book!

I was a huge fan of Esi Edugyan’s Half-Blood Blues and so excited when I received the opportunity to read and review her latest novel ahead of time. Washington Black tells the story of a young Barbados sugar plantation slave, Wash, who is chosen to be an apprentice to the plantation master’s eccentric brother, Titch, and is fatefully introduced to a world of wonder, science, and friendship. Like Half-Blood Blues, this book takes a large moment in history and explores a little known part of it. I found the first half of the book to be engaging; however, I felt the second half may have wandered a bit and could have had a bit stronger of an ending. All being said, I still adored Edugyan’s writing and plan to read anything else that she writes.

"A man who has belonged to another learns very early to observe a master's eyes; what I saw in this man's terrified me." Erasmus Wilde was the new master of Faith Plantation, Barbados. The year was 1830. George Washington Black "Wash" was a ten year old field slave who helped "clear the cane". Wash had no family but Big Kit, a field slave as well, nurtured him. Reading Wash's palm, she declared, "you will have a great big life, child..." Erasmus Wilde, the eldest son of an adventurer, was left in charge of four plantations, living at and running Faith Plantation, the most profitable one. He resented his younger brother Christopher nicknamed "Titch", a scientist and adventurer. Titch could pursue anything of his choosing and what he wanted was to train Wash as his man servant. He needed someone small to assist with his scientific endeavors. His "Cloud Cutter" was a hot air balloon. Titch determined that an "airborne" balloon could support both his weight and that of a small boy. Surprisingly, Wash was discovered to be a budding artist who learned to document Titch's data and measurements and illustrate what he saw from several different vantage points. This uneducated field slave slowly tasted life outside the confines of the plantation. Could he live a meaningful existence and be acknowledged for his present and future accomplishments? It would be challenging since the vengeful Erasmus was offering a reward of 1,000 pounds for the capture of Wash. Will he ever be his own man? "Washington Black" by Esi Edugyan was an excellent historical adventure novel that allowed the reader to witness Wash's unsettling journey. Leaving the sugar cane fields, he learned different societal expectations while experiencing shame and anger associated with rejection by the field slaves. Could his artistic renderings under the tutelage of Titch be acknowledged as his own? Does Wash have a voice? "Washington Black" by Esi Edugyan is a character study of Wash and a commentary on slavery and race in the 1800's. I highly recommend this 2018 Man Booker Nominee. Thank you First to Read for a digital copy in exchange for my honest review.

I found the first third of this book extremely compelling and emotionally difficult to read. After that, it seemed to ramble somewhat and I could never really get interested in the scientific portion although scientific exploration was very typical for the 1800’s. Altogether, I felt it was beautifully written but extremely depressing.


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