I reviewed Esi Edugyan’s latest novel “Washington Black” back in Oct., but it deserves a revisit in conversation on the Man Booker. “Washington Black” follows the story of a young boy, and his life and escape from a plantation in Barbados. Wash, as he is called in the novel, has an extraordinary gift for drawing, a talent that is soon discovered by the plantation master’s brother, Christopher “Titch” Wilde. Recognizing Wash’s intelligence and skill, Titch summons Wash to help him construct what he calls a “cloud-cutter,” the latest contraption in his line of scientific inventions. After work on the cloud-cutter (fancy speak for a modern-day hot air balloon) goes awry and Wash finds himself in a life-threatening situation, Titch and Wash flee the plantation and embark on a thrilling journey that takes them around the globe. The complex friendship between Titch and Wash is one of the most compelling aspects of the novel, and their bond makes for a poignant story that Edugyan delivers with well written and thought out prose. It is also simply an enjoyable and entertaining read, which alone is enough to warrant its place on the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize. 

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