Washington Black

Washington Black

Book - 2018
Average Rating:
Rate this:
67
5
2
 …
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.
Published: New York :, Alfred A. Knopf,, 2018.
Edition: First United States edition.
Copyright Date: ♭2018
ISBN: 9780525521426
0525521429
Branch Call Number: F EDU
Characteristics: 333 pages ;,25 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

One Read Top 10 Finalist 2020

Scotiabank Giller Prize


From the critics


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment
j
jkellerhand
Jan 05, 2021

Maria recommended

p
PDBurt
Dec 16, 2020

Even though this was a page turner there was something not quite right about it. Washington finds a troubling freedom, has unbelievable adventures, is haunted by abandonment, falls in love, enjoys painting and sketching, is fascinated with the sea, is involved in creative invention; but there's a bit too much description both of the environment and of feelings/perception. Just kind of a sad feel to the story. The actual hard cover book is easy to hold and the large print nice. Decide for yourself, you may not be able to put it down once you begin.

j
joe_strnad
Dec 11, 2020

One of my favorites I've read this year. Edugyan used a lot of 19th C vernacular - some readers may find difficult yet I appreciated the effort and style; helped maintain setting and tone of the story. Loved her descriptions of characters' personalities, physical attributes, and dialogue.

One can read this as a simple historic novel, but it's more than that. Beginning on a Barbados' plantation, Washington's story is a story of race. So if you cannot handle that, this is not for you. The discussions of science and fanciful instruments blend the genre just a bit and left me wondering where the story was headed.

So in parts III and IV Wash catches and observes an octopus. Did anyone else read that as a metaphor for Wash? Intelligent creature which can camouflage itself for protection, defense, attractiveness, etc. I felt this symbolized his youth once Titch nurtured his artistic talent. Wash used his talents to gain education and escape from Titch. But as he matures and meets Tana the question is posed that maybe Titch had exploited Wash. Either way, Wash 'adapts' to his environment and those around him in his art, his labors, his scientific observations in order to allow people to see value in him. As a black man, former slave, with facial scars, Wash is constantly guarded and feels he must prove his worth to others.

I will keep an eye out for what Esi Edugyan writes in the future - lovely writing style and very creative.

m
MileHighStar
Nov 17, 2020

A wonderful book, very well written. I loved it from cover to cover.

m
mmyjer20
Sep 21, 2020

I liked this book. The author writes well. The story could've been a bit more exciting as you were lead to believe that the boy would be taken on many more adventures in the balloon. But I liked it.

m
MaggieBrooklyn
Sep 13, 2020

historical fiction--bookriot list of 50 best historical fiction https://bookriot.com/best-historical-fiction-books/

a
andreareads
Aug 23, 2020

There are brutal details of life on the slave plantation at the beginning of the book. Wash's life does get better, but be warned that the start of it makes for tough reading.

j
Jenkskitten
Aug 06, 2020

A great story of an eight year old slave boy from Barbados growing into manhood. He encounters prejudice, fear, betrayal, scorn, tragedies and rejection, along with a God given talent, direction by welling meaning people, a scientific mind, travel and excitement. The author does an excellent job of describing G.W. ( Wash) Black's feeling and emotions throughout his life's adventures. Easy read and hard to put down. Reason for not a 5 star rating was the abrupt ending.

0Charlie Jul 14, 2020

I'm not quite sure how to describe this work. I was carried along with the adventures of the main character, Wash, a young black slave on a plantation in the Barbados in the early 1800's. He ends up travelling across the globe and I was fascinated with the historic details of Barbados, early Canada, the Far North, Britain, the Middle East. The driving force behind most of these adventures is his relationship with Titch, a well-to-do white Brit and scientist, who takes Wash under his wing and helps him to discover his potential. My problem is I'm not sure how the story ends. After the concrete tales of travel and exploration, the final "wrap-up" becomes so intangible that it is a bit of a slap in the face when the story just ends. Certainly worth the read but I guess I'm not deep enough to understand the finale.

s
soublaki
Mar 13, 2020

This is an exceptional work of modern literature that I couldn’t put down. I felt a deep empathy for the protagonist Washington whose journey through slavery and beyond takes the reader on a voyage across land and seas towards self-actualization as an adult black man in a changing world.

View All Comments

Quotes

Add a Quote
a
andreareads
Aug 23, 2020

I had been warned by Mister Ibel that snow was white, and cold. But it was not white: it held all the colours of the spectrum. It was blue and green and yellow and teal; there were delicate pink tintings in some of the cliffs as we passed. As the light shifted in the sky, so too did the snow around us deepen, find new hues, the way an ocean is never blue but some constantly changing colour.

a
andreareads
Aug 23, 2020

Though a child, I did not picture a monster – he was no creature all teeth, all vicious blue eyes behind mangled wire spectacles; his voice was not slow and reptilian, his hands not huge black claws. I knew the nature of evil; I knew its benign, easy face. He would be a man, simply.

a
andreareads
Aug 23, 2020

It was a wonder to me that a world of cruelty and hardship existed, even now, only some miles away. How was it possible, thought I, that we lived in such nightmare and all the while a world of men continued just over the horizon . . .

a
andreareads
Aug 23, 2020

She seemed neither preoccupied nor uneasy; her silence was marked by a held-in rage that I have only now, several years later, come to understand as the suppression of will. For she was a ferociously intelligent woman, and it strained her to have to conceal it. She sometimes spoke as no slave should speak; the scar on her face was some testament to this.

s
shayshortt
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.

Summary

Add a Summary
g
GVorauer
Apr 06, 2019

Too brutal, too disturbing - not bedtime reading.

s
shayshortt
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.

Notices

Add Notices
a
andreareads
Aug 23, 2020

Violence: violence and suicide

Age

Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Recommendations

Subject Headings

  Loading...
DBRL owns a similar edition of this title.

View originally-listed edition

Report edition-matching error

  Loading...
[]
[]
To Top