ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW'S TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR - MAN BOOKER PRIZE FINALIST - "A gripping historical narrative exploring both the bounds of slavery and what it means to be truly free." --Vanity Fair
Eleven-year-old George Washington Black--or Wash--a field slave on a Barbados sugar plantation, is initially terrified when he is chosen as the manservant of his master's brother. To his surprise, however, 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.
- ISBN-13: 9780525563242
- ISBN-10: 0525563245
- Publisher: Vintage
- Publish Date: April 2019
- Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.65 pounds
- Page Count: 400
Book Clubs: The wide world of historical fiction
Four dazzling works of historical fiction, all set outside of Europe and America, are perfect for book clubs.
When Benito Mussolini invades Ethiopia at the beginning of Maaza Mengiste’s powerful novel, The Shadow King, a young maid named Hirut wants to fight alongside the men, but she’s not allowed. Joining with other women, including the wife of her employer, Hirut eventually comes into her own as a resistance fighter, and her coming of age and developing political consciousness provide a captivating arc for readers to follow. Mengiste’s fierce novel is a study of loyalty and identity in the years leading up to World War II.
Set in the 19th century, Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black tells the story of Wash, an 11-year-old boy who is enslaved in Barbados and selected to be the manservant of Christopher Wilde, the brother of his enslaver. Christopher takes Wash under his wing, using him as an assistant in his experimental launch of a hot air balloon. When the two are forced to leave Barbados, new possibilities open up for Wash. Complicated examinations of colonization, slavery and power dynamics add richness to Edugyan’s tense, gripping tale of adventure. Expect a rousing good read with somber undertones as Wash struggles to find his place in the world.
In Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko, a young Korean woman named Sunja has an affair with a rich man who turns out to be married. When Sunja discovers she’s pregnant, she marries a good-natured minister and they move to Japan. Lee spins a hypnotic saga that opens in the early 1900s and unfolds over several decades, first following Sunja’s and her husband’s experiences as immigrants, then the stories of subsequent generations of their family. Book clubs will find plenty to discuss in Lee’s sweeping novel, including gender roles and the pressures of family.
The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell begins in 1904 Northern Rhodesia (what is now the nation of Zambia) and spans a century. When British photographer Percy Clark makes his home in a colonial settlement known as the Old Drift, his adventures lead to unforeseen involvement with three Zambian families. Serpell draws upon elements of magical realism and Zambian history and mythology to create a singularly innovative and slyly funny narrative that unfurls the history of an evolving nation.