Washington Black

City of Victoria Butler Book Prize
About this Work 

In 1830, two English brothers arrive at a Barbados sugar plantation, bringing with them a darkness beyond what the slaves have already known. Washington Black—an eleven-year-old field slave—is horrified to find himself chosen to live in the quarters of one of these men. But his new master is not as Washington expects him to be. He is the eccentric Christopher Wilde—naturalist, explorer, inventor and abolitionist—whose obsession with perfecting a winged flying machine disturbs all who know him. Washington is initiated into a world of wonder: a world where the night sea viewed from a hilltop explodes with light, where a simple cloth canopy can propel 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.

A dazzling, original novel of slavery and freedom, from the author of the international bestseller Half-Blood Blues.

Jurors' Citation 

Artfully rendered and exquisitely written, Washington Black’s story is mythic in both scope and tone, leaving an indelible mark on readers and vividly reminding us of the scourge of slavery and of those who attempt to live a life of full humanity, despite the actions of others for good or ill. Ambitious, unsettling, and tragic.

Esi Edugyan

Esi Edugyan’s Half-Blood Blues won the Scotiabank Giller Prize. The novel was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize, the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the Orange Prize for Fiction. Esi Edugyan lives in Victoria.