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Washington Black

Narrated by: Dion Graham
Length: 12 hrs and 18 mins
4.3 out of 5 stars (228 ratings)

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Summary

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018

When two English brothers take the helm of a Barbados sugar plantation, Washington Black - an 11-year-old field slave - finds himself selected as personal servant to one of these men. The eccentric Christopher 'Titch' Wilde is a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor and abolitionist whose single-minded pursuit of the perfect aerial machine mystifies all around him.  

Titch's idealistic plans are soon shattered, and Washington finds himself in mortal danger. They escape the island together, but then then Titch disappears and Washington must make his way alone, following the promise of freedom further than he ever dreamed possible.  

From the blistering cane fields of Barbados to the icy wastes of the Canadian Arctic, from the mud-drowned streets of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black teems with all the strangeness and mystery of life. Inspired by a true story, Washington Black is the extraordinary tale of a world destroyed and made whole again.

©2018 Ideas of March Inc. (P)2018 Random House Audio

What listeners say about Washington Black

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Slave's-eye worldview, a novel idea.

This put me in mind of, of course Twelve Years a Slave, but also Mark Twain and other books of that era. I saw it longlisted for the Man Booker and liked the sound of it, getting a copy of the Audible version. Washington Black is a child slave in Barbados when he is selected to work for one of the two owner brothers. It is to change his life when he discovers his master is a scientist in need of a research assistant. His education and work will lift him from the sugar fields to a life that takes in half the globe, as he looks on it all from the point of view of a slave, a youth. This started brilliantly, I loved Washington's character and seeing his evolution from scared boy to educated and appreciated young man, albeit still a slave. The story takes many turns, and I did feel a little exasperated and felt it lost direction. I found myself losing concentration at times towards the end and having to backtrack. The style mimics fairly well a novel of the period, though in a less formal way, making it easier for modern audiences to listen/read without feeling overwhelmed with old-fashioned stylistic flourishes and language. There are some emotive parts, some shocks, twists, but I did prefer the first half to the second. An unusual subject, quite refreshing. I may have preferred this on paper as I did find myself drifting listening to the Audible version, though the narrator was clear and made a good 'Wash'. With thanks to Nudge Books for providing a sample Audible copy.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I feel as though I have been on this journey alongside Washington himself!

Esi Edugyan must have a clear recollection of a previous life to be able to create the world of a slave growing up in the fields and then taken under the wing of a master before being abandoned ... it is such an evocative, emotional account - brought to life by the brilliant narration of Dion Graham - utterly consuming ... I’ve lived through every minute and just can’t recommend it highly enough!

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Profoundly moving

An epic story beautifully performed, deeply moving and constantly interesting . I’m off to buy her other books

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

An adventure of self purpose

Beautifully narrated; at times early on I thought of abandoning this as I was struggling to understand where the story was going, but I'm glad I persevered. Wash is ultimately led on a trail of self discovery, to figure out who he is outside of the stereotype and status given to him at birth. The ending was a little underwhelming for me and I was left with questions, but this isn't always a bad thing.

1 person found this helpful

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Good but not great

A thoroughly enjoyable (except of course for the underlying injustices) listen. I very much enjoyed coming back to this book and liked the rambling story-line that was believable and original. The first half had me gripped but the second half, not so much, as I felt it tended to ramble on occasion. The narration was okay though some of the voices lacked distinction, and the accents, at times, left a lot to be desired, but overall the narration was good.

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent

Great story, very well narrated. Captivating from the very start. It would be helpful to have a text copy alongside to understand some of the speech from the characters in the plantation. Also the Scottish accent isn’t the best!

1 person found this helpful

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Gripping story

Beautifully read, moving, and evocative. Unexpected turns, much suspense and easy to listen to. Highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Good start but plot peters out from halfway

Excellent start but as soon as the characters leave the plantation the plot really just dwindles

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Elegant writing: profound history with a message for today too.

Four Parts. Six Years. A lifetime. Many lifetimes. Another wake-up call. Not just a story of an individual, but a sharp reminder of the past & present plight of so many. A wonderful adventure story crammed with fear, hopes, violence, vibrant characters, history from 200 years ago and the current-day need to end intolerance that still lingers in society.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Loved it.

One of the best books I have listened to this year. Beautifully written, nicely paced, interesting characters and a plot that encompasses history, geography, racism, inventions, slavery, the natural world, human frailty and deception. What's not to like? The narrator did a fine job, bringing the characters to life in a very sympathetic style. I absolutely loved it.

1 person found this helpful