As I was saying, my Shadow Giller reviews will appear in a slightly different format: first, In Short, a 300-word and spoiler-free summary, intended to have a broad appeal, and, next, In Detail, which will expound upon one aspect of the book which I found remarkable (but which might be of interest only to those who have already read the book or those with an interest in the mechanics of writing).
At the heart of Esi Edugyan’s third novel, is George Washington Black, who was born into slavery on Faith Plantation, Barbados. Administered by the Wilde family, when one patriarch dies on the plantation, another takes his place, thereby dictating the future of all plantation inhabitants: a future filled with limitations and cruelties. But the unexpected arrival of another brother, the black-sheep of the family, dramatically alters the trajectory of Wash’s life in 1830.
Christopher ‘Titch’ Wilde is aware of the irony in the complaints he makes in Wash’s hearing, about the restrictions that Titch feels on his life choices and his capacity to pursue his dreams; but, in other ways, he is ignorant of his privilege. And, for his part, Wash is ill-equipped to respond to requests that Titch makes of him, simple questions that presume a certain kind of freedom of thought and imagination, a capacity to contemplate and reflect, which is new to Wash’s experience.