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Deza is singled out as the smartest girl in her class in Gary, Indiana, on a path for greatness. But the Great Depression hits her town hard. There are no jobs for black men, and her father is forced to leave town to find work.

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Deza, along with her mother and brother, try to find him and end up in a Hooverville just outside of Flint, Michigan, clinging to hope even in the darkest of times that they will find him again. One reporter traces the history of the scientifically invaluable HELA cells back to the black woman they originated from, who never received credit and whose family was never compensated or asked for permission. An engaging mix of biography and scientific history.

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Misty was a true prodigy, dancing en pointe within three months of discovering dance and dancing professionally in less than a year—something completely unheard of in the world of classical ballet. But her success and passion for dance were at odds with the intense struggles of her personal life, and in this memoir Misty gives an inside look at her unlikely and inspiring journey to become a renowned ballerina.

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Michelle is poor, African American, and trying to keep things together with her mother in jail. Leah is white, middle class, and her biggest worries involve lacrosse and college applications.

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The only thing the two girls have in common is the father who abandoned them both as children. But when they find out that their father is dying, they make the uneasy decision to road trip across the country to say goodbye to the father they barely knew. But then she meets Bianca in group therapy, and it seems like somehow, with Bianca, Etta might fit in. Goddesses can refuse the men, but at the price of never again finding love.

Nikki and Maya have always been identical in every way, from their looks down to their desire to attend an HBCU for college. But when their neighborhood starts to see the effects of gentrification, the sisters suddenly find themselves at odds with conflicting views on ethnic and cultural identity for the first time. Her Harlem grandmother, Tilly, however, feels differently, and decides to whisk NaTasha away to reconnect with her roots—whether NaTasha wants to or not.


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But maybe Jade still has a thing or two to learn, too, about the real world and how to make a difference in it. Read it, read it, read it. In the dream realm known as Wonderland, Alice fights monsters, but in the real world she still has a curfew. A multi-faceted tale that travels across geography and history.

In its rich details and finely tuned ear for language, the book creates a virtual world. Edugyan is a virtuosic writer. She satisfies the ultimate demand we make of novels: Esi Edugyan has a rare talent for turning over little known stones of history and giving her reader a new lens on the world, a new way of understanding subject matter we arrogantly think we know everything about.

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This book is an epic adventure and a heartfelt tale about love and morality and their many contradictions. Wash and Titch are so alive as to be unforgettable. This important novel from the author of the superb Half-Blood Blues belongs in every library. One of the most unconventional escapes from slavery ever chronicled.


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  4. A thoughtful, boldly imagined ripsnorter that broadens inventive possibilities for the antebellum novel. The first section of the book, set on the plantation, is a scintillating tour de force. A novel worthy of its subject. A gripping adventure and an atmospheric portrayal of s society. Both engaging and deeply affecting. A richly entertaining read.

    In a story that is escapist, as well as poignant and political, Edugyan enjoys taking her readers where they are least expecting to go. Like the best historical fiction, it shines a light on the present as well as the past. Washington Black is a brilliantly absorbing picaresque; a book that combines the unflinching depiction of violence with a lyrical, hallucinatory beauty. How did the original tale become your novel? In fact I set out to write a novel about the Tichborne case, of all things, one of the longest-running criminal trials in British history.

    But almost from the first, the story began to stray, the characters took on their own realities and dimensions.

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    I understand now that it was the voice of its narrator that interested me, the complicated position he found himself in, racially, socially, intellectually. This is what I took from that initial idea. And out of this grew a story about a boy of sensitivity and intelligence, seeking his foothold in a world where there can be no real belonging for him.

    Looking back at my previous novels, I see now how they are both preoccupied with aftermaths, with the reconstructing of lives after great suffering.


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    Washington Black , as a post-slavery narrative, is no different. But it became what it is only very gradually, and on its own terms. Readers have said that the style of your book reminds them of authors as diverse as Jules Verne, Charles Dickens and Colson Whitehead. I wanted to capture this scene and use the lettering to reinforce the swirls of fog. I explored various options where the title suspended in the air and swallowed under the marsh. Between the letters I drew a line work filigree that depicts reeds, roots and key objects from the story; horse skull, wagon wheel and rocking chair.

    Wood engraving was a popular illustrative technique during Victorian times and the cover adopts this style.

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