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Washington Black

de Esi Edugyan

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2,3131366,802 (3.91)263
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.… (més)
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» Mira també 263 mencions

Anglès (134)  Italià (1)  Alemany (1)  Totes les llengües (136)
Es mostren 1-5 de 136 (següent | mostra-les totes)
What would it mean to be born into a system where your humanity wasn’t recognized, to have no “before” to remember your full self existing in? Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black explores the life of the titular character, called “Wash” for short, born into slavery on a sugar plantation in Barbados owned by a cruel man called Erasmus. His life changes forever when he’s 11, when Erasmus’s brother Christopher (“Titch”) comes to visit, and Wash and his mother-figure, Big Kit, who work in the fields, are asked to help serve dinner in the house. Titch asks for the use of Wash while he’s on the plantation, to assist him in his experiments, and this leads to the first time in his life that Wash is treated at all like a person. While Titch has tasks for him to perform, he’s allowed to get regular sleep, to think about whether he likes the food in front of him, and a previously undiscovered talent for drawing is developed and acknowledged. But then there’s a death, and Wash is blamed, and he and Titch are on the run.

Once they read the United States, Wash is given the opportunity to be transported to freedom in Canada through the Underground Railroad. But he sticks with Titch, and the two of them are pursued by a slave hunter while trying to uncover what really happened when Titch and Erasmus’s father disappeared and reportedly died. Eventually, they are separated, and Wash is on his own for the first time in his life. He ends up in Nova Scotia, where he meets Tanna, the daughter of an oceanographer, and their growing bond, as well as Wash’s gift for illustration, earns him an invite to travel with them to England, where Wash plunges deeper into a search for answers about his life.

The coverage I’d heard of this book before I picked it up made it sound like an adventure story, which I was not particularly excited about. And it partly is: the portion of the book where Titch and Wash are on the run, making up much but not all of the first half, is quick-paced and the atmosphere of suspense that Edugyan creates as they try to stay ahead of their tracker was engaging. But the back half of the novel becomes much more languid, turning inward as Wash begins to really examine himself and build a self-concept. This is usually the kind of thing I eat up, I love novels rooted in psychological realism! But I think the pacing of the book was damagingly uneven. After the brisk energy of the first half, the slow-down makes the book feel like it’s dragging and it began to seem like a slog to get through.

Which is unfortunate, because Edugyan is a beautiful writer. Her prose is elegant and insightful, and she does wonderful character work with Wash, whose journey towards personal understanding is moving. I do wish she’d done more with the character of Tanna, who starts out dynamic and winds up in a role as Wash’s emotional supporter that feels cliche and reductive. Once Titch leaves the narrative, though, so does much of the tension driving the plot forward, and to have that momentum built and then lost unfortunately undermines the strength of the work as a whole. It has brilliant moments, and I’d still say it was pretty good, but the pacing issues kept it from greatness. I’d look forward to reading more work from Edugyan in the future, and this book does have merit and is worth reading if you’re interested in it, but it’s too unbalanced to really affirmatively recommend. ( )
  ghneumann | Jun 14, 2024 |
Canada Reads Shortlist 2022 ( )
  Dorothy2012 | Apr 22, 2024 |
Thriller
  BooksInMirror | Feb 19, 2024 |
I liked the first half of this quite a bit. The second half lost momentum for me and truth be told, it’s probably not the fault of the novel. I was traveling and running races and not getting much sleep and I just became disconnected with the flow of the whole story. I think it deserved better from me.

Some lovely writing for sure. ( )
  hmonkeyreads | Jan 25, 2024 |
È abbastanza evidente che questo romanzo non è stato scritto da un*autorǝ bianchǝ, che quando raccontano questo genere di storia tendono a fare della persona bianca che tratta in maniera normale e umana la persona nera in tempi di schiavitù e/o segregazione negli USA un*eroǝ. Edugyan, invece, nel raccontare lo sviluppo del rapporto tra Titch, uno dei figli del proprietario di una piantagione di canna da zucchero nelle Barbados, e Wash, uno dellз schiavз che in quella piantagione sono costrettз a lavorare, ci fa domandare: ma Titch è davvero una brava persona?

La domanda sorge spontanea nel corso della lettura perché Titch è un abolizionista e chiaramente è raccapricciato dalle condizioni dellз schiavз nella piantagione di famiglia, ma allo stesso tempo non si fa troppi scrupoli nel chiedere al fratello (che materialmente gestisce la piantagione) di prestargli una manciata di schiavз per i suoi esperimenti scientifici. Uno di questз schiavз, Wash, instaurerà con lui un rapporto molto stretto che continuerà a interrogarci sulle reali intenzioni di Titch. Che poi è un modo per interrogare noi stessз: quanto è solido il nostro antirazzismo? Quanto del nostro antirazzismo è genuino e quanto è parte della nostra vanità e della nostra velleità di essere le brave persone che sogniamo di essere?

Ecco, il rapporto tra Titch e Wash è abbastanza esemplare delle fratture che il razzismo crea nei rapporti interpersonali tra persone bianche e persone razzializzate: Titch non è cattivo, ma nemmeno buono come probabilmente si pensa. È un uomo bianco cresciuto in una società profondamente razzista e ha scalfito appena la superficie del suo razzismo: non basta posare la frusta per non essere più uno schiavista.

Peccato aver avuto con questo romanzo lo stesso problema che avevo avuto con Questo suono è una leggenda: la storia ha catturato subito la mia attenzione, ma, esaurita la sua propulsione iniziale, mi sono ritrovata in una palude. La parte centrale del romanzo mi ha annoiata terribilmente ed è stata una faticaccia arrivare alla parte finale, dove la storia riprende forza. A questo punto penso proprio di avere un problema con quest’autrice, che scrive di tematiche molto interessanti, ma che non riesce proprio a mantenere desto il mio interesse per tutta la durata della storia. ( )
  lasiepedimore | Dec 3, 2023 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 136 (següent | mostra-les totes)
The reader can almost see what is coming. Since Barbados was under British rule, slavery was abolished there in 1834. This, then, could be a novel about the last days of the cruelty, about what happens to a slave-owning family and to the slaves during the waning of the old dispensation.

The Canadian novelist Esi Edugyan has other ideas, however. She is determined that the fate of Washington Black will not be dictated by history, that the novel instead will give him permission to soar above his circumstances and live a life that has been shaped by his imagination, his intelligence and his rich sensibility....Edugyan is willing to take great risks to release the reader from any easy or predictable interpretations of Washington. She is not afraid to allow him to have thoughts and knowledge that seem oddly beyond his command. That is part of his ambiguous power in the book, the idea that, owing to his unusual quickness and subtlety of mind, Washington can be trusted to know more than he should
 
Washington Black opens on a 19th-century sugar plantation in Barbados and launches into the horrors of that experience from the child’s-eye view of the eponymous Washington Black, an 11-year-old slave. But it would be a mistake to think that Esi Edugyan’s Man Booker-longlisted third book is an earnest story of colonial slavery....it is clear that Edugyan is coming at her subject sideways, not with gritty realism but with fabular edges, and as much concerned with the nature of freedom as with slavery, both for her white characters and black....The beauty here lies in Edugyan’s language, which is precise, vivid, always concerned with wordcraft and captivating for it...It’s not what readers who are wedded to realism might want, but Edugyan’s fiction always stays strong, beautiful and beguiling.
 

» Afegeix-hi altres autors (4 possibles)

Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Edugyan, Esiautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Burdeny, DaveAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Dyer, PeterDissenyador de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Graham, DionNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Hansen, JanetDissenyador de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Paassen, Catalien vanTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Pappas, Cassandra J.Dissenyadorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Read, AlexandraAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Wilson, JoeAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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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.

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