Thursday, February 02, 2023

Seven novels about Black characters in the 19th Century

Kai Thomas is a writer, carpenter, and land steward. He is Afro-Canadian, born and raised in Ottawa, descended from Trinidad and the British Isles.

In the Upper Country is his first novel.

At Electric Lit he tagged "seven other novels about Black folks in the 1800s, and a few words about the unique and astounding ways the authors bring their stories to life." One title on the list:
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

The world of Washington Black is exquisitely immersive. The attention to detail in Edugyan’s prose has a way of slowing down time. It’s like touring an exhibit at an art museum wherein one can amble through the rooms, taking long pauses to pore over the paintings—each a scene.

The novel is a true bildungsroman—one feels the indelible, slow transformation of the protagonist Wash, from his childhood on a Barbados plantation to his career as a scientific illustrator and inventor.

Washington Black brings together two moods: the romance of 19th-century science fiction, and the terror of slavery and its afterlife. It is a remix in hip-hop fashion, and the resulting rhythm is as fresh as it is classic.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue