Saturday, February 09, 2019

Washington Black (by Esi Edugyan)

Based solely on reputation, before I even started it, this was my pick to win the Tournament of Books this year. It's a twist on the typical slavery narrative -- Washington Black is born in Barbados, and although he serves a cruel master and the horrors of plantation life are addressed, he ultimately goes on to experience life as a free man -- all while trying to define what that actually means and come to terms with his past.

As improbable as I found the last third of the novel, I did enjoy the adventure, and Washington himself. I really enjoyed the revelations about his past in the final pages, and how that shaded the rest of the narrative.

However, I wasn't blown away by it -- I might still rank The Great Believers over this, and it wouldn't wrest my zombie vote away from My Sister the Serial Killer -- but I might not have read it except for the Tournament, and that would have been a shame.  This author is Canadian, and she's crafted a very original narrative and a wonderfully rounded character within a traditional coming-of-age novel.

I look forward to reading the discussions about this one for sure!

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