An eleven-year-old field slave on a Barbados sugar plantation, George Washington Black, or “Wash,” is terrified to be chosen as the manservant to his master’s brother. But 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, they must abandon everything and flee together. Over the course of their travels, what brings Wash and Christopher together will tear them apart, propelling the former even farther across the globe in search of his true self. Spanning the cane fields of the Caribbean to the frozen Far North, London to Morocco, Washington Black tells a story of self-invention and betrayal, of love and redemption, and of a world destroyed and made whole again.
Esi Edugyan is the author of the novels The Second Life of Samuel Tyne and Half-Blood Blues, which won the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize, the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the Orange Prize. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia.