Monday Evening Book Club May Selection

The Monday Evening Book Club will meet at 7:00 pm on Monday, May 6 in the 2nd floor Aquarium to discuss the novel Washington Black by Esi Edugyan.

Washington BlackAbout the book

From the author of the award-winning international best seller Half-Blood Blues comes a dazzling new novel, 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? (From the publisher.)

About the author

Esi Edugyan is a Canadian novelist, born and raised in Calgary, to Ghanaian immigrant parents. She studied creative writing at the University of Victoria and Johns Hopkins University before publishing her debut novel, The Second Life of Samuel Tyne, in 2004.

Despite favourable reviews for her first novel, Edugyan had difficulty securing a publisher for her second fiction manuscript. She spent some time as a writer-in-residence in Stuttgart, Germany, which inspired her to write another novel, Half-Blood Blues, about a mixed-race jazz musician in World War II-era Europe who is abducted by the Nazis as a “Rhineland Bastard.”

Published in 2011, Half-Blood Blues was shortlisted for that year’s Man Booker Prize, Scotiabank Giller Prize, Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and Governor General’s Award for English language fiction. She was one of two Canadian writers, alongside Patrick deWitt, to make all four award lists in 2011. On November 8, 2011 she won the Giller Prize. Again, alongside deWitt, Half-Blood Blues was also shortlisted for the 2012 Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction. In April 2012, Half-Blood Blues also won an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award.

In 2018, Edugyan released Washington Black, which was long-listed for that year’s Man Booker Prize. It won the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize. Edugyan is the first author to win the Giller Prize for back-to-back novels.

Edugyan lives in Victoria, British Columbia, and is married to novelist and poet Steven Price. (From Wikipedia.)

Q & A with Esi Edugyan about Washington Black

The Tichborne case: Esi Edugyan’s original inspiration for the novel

On Barbados, the First Black Slave Society 

Washington Black review (Washington Post)

Washington Black review (Irish Times)

Washington Black review (New Yorker)

Esi Edugyan is the winner of the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize

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