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Episode One

By Esi Edugyan. It's 1830 and Washington Black’s young life changes forever when a new master arrives at the British-owned Faith plantation in Barbados.

Set in the 1830s, Washington Black is an epic, historical novel. It begins on a slave plantation in Barbados and, by the most unexpected and inventive means, transports its young protagonist, Wash, off the island and on a journey that takes him around the world - in pursuit of freedom and the man whose approval he so desperately seeks.

Esi Edugyan's novel explores the nature of evil, moral delusion, and the limits of responsibility. It's also a coming-of-age story where survival marks the transition from boy to man.

Underpinning the more sobering aspects of the novel is a glorious celebration of the creative spirit and the power of the imagination. Despite everything, Washington’s ability to connect with and inspire others, and to draw strength from his own inner life, is an inspiration and a joy that speaks to the contemporary world.

Episode One:
It's 1830. Washington Black is a young field-slave working on the British-owned Faith plantation in Barbados. He is protected and helped by an older African woman, Big Kit. When a ruthless new master arrives at Faith, Wash’s life changes forever.

The author Esi Edugyan has degrees from the University of Victoria and Johns Hopkins University. Her first novel, The Second Life of Samuel Tyne, was written when she was 25 and published in 2004. Her second, Half Blood Blues, won the Scotiabank Giller Prize and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2011. Washington Black won the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Esi lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

Writer: Esi Edugyan
Abridger: Jeremy Osborne
Reader: Alex Lanipekun
Producer: Rosalynd Ward

A Sweet Talk production for BBC Radio 4

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