Washington Black

Esi Edugyan
Serpent's Tale £14.99
by SRB

Books of the Year 2018- A Literary Advent Calendar

December 5, 2018 | by SRB

 

We’ve asked Scotland’s leading writers, booksellers, festival directors and critics to pick one, or two, books — published this year or in the past — that they most enjoyed reading in 2018. There will be new selections every day throughout December — so keep reading for great ideas about what to read next and visit your nearest high street bookshop to purchase your Christmas gifts! Today’s selection is from Aran Ward Sell.

The swashbuckling adventure story needs conviction to avoid slipping into pastiche, and yet it can so easily lose its lustre if burdened with gravitas. So it is to Esi Edugyan’s resounding credit that her nineteenth-century scientific romance Washington Black – midnight escapes! Cruel villains! Jungles and ice and first love! – never loses its thrill, even when forcefully portraying how brutal slave labour built the wealth of empire. The eponymous Wash is a strong yet damaged slave boy. His attachment to ‘Titch’ Wilde, the zealous gentleman scientist who saves him from the plantation, grows from childish dependency into conflicted uncertainty. Deservedly Booker-shortlisted.

Aran Ward Sell is an Edinburgh-based writer and University of Edinburgh PhD candidate, working on contemporary Irish fiction. He is a Scottish Review of Books emerging critic. Find him on his website www.ReasonsToRemain.co.uk, and on twitter @AranWS

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