Book Review: Washington Black, a deeply rewarding story

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By: Jess Ward, Staff Writer

Esi Edguyan’s Washington Black offers a brutal and deeply rewarding story of a slave held at the Faith Plantation in the Barbados. Washington Black is a field slave, recounting to the reader his journey to freedom as he becomes a man of science and art. Black must survive everything from the sun-drenched tropics filled with violent abuse, to the white wasteland of the Arctic. It is his only hope for true freedom.

Edguyan’s mastery of descriptive language forces the reader to be immersed in the world she creates, weaving history and the power of narrative fiction into a thoughtful reflection of the past and present. This book is not for the faint of heart. There are frequent graphic depictions of slavery and structural oppression that may leave the reader uncomfortable, even frightened. However, this is what allows Edguyan to truly convey a desperate need for freedom, particularly found in those whose freedoms have been taken.

What would you be willing to do for your freedom? The rights and liberties humankind grants itself has a long and fluid past, and Edguyan asks us to grant ourselves and each other the freedoms we all deserve: curiosity, agency and joy.

If you have any books you want to see reviewed, suggestions can be sent to [email protected] For those who want to read along, I will be reviewing Sloane Leong’s Prism Stalker next week.

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