Esi Edugyan explores history's lost voices in new book Washington Black

Esi Edugyan talks about journeying into the past, her new novel Washington Black and what she wanted to say about one of history's greatest injustices.
Washington Black is a novel by Esi Edugyan. (Patrick Crean Editions, Tamara Poppitt)

Originally published on September 4, 2018

Have you ever thought about all of the chapters that your history textbooks never covered? Canadian novelist Esi Edugyan has, and she's made a career out of it.

Edugyan's first novel, The Secret Life of Samuel Tyne, was set in Alberta in the '60s. Her second, the Giller Prize-winning book Half Blood Blues tells the story of an interracial jazz band in Europe in the '30s and '40s, and her latest novel, Washington Black — which was nominated for the Man Booker Prize before it was even published — goes even deeper into the past.

Washington Black tells the story of an 11-year-old slave named George Washington Black. His life is irrevocably changed after he becomes a manservant for the brother of his plantation boss, and some hidden talents come to light.

Edugyan​ talked to Tom Power about journeying into the past and what she wanted to say about one of history's greatest injustices. Washington Black, is out now. 

Listen to the full conversation with Esi Edugyan near the top of this page. 

Produced by Ben Edwards 

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