Book Club: Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

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Book Club: Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Monday, October 7, 2019 at 7:45 pm - 8:45 pm EDT

“Washington Black” by Esi EdugyanPresented by Smaro Kamboureli

Washington Black is an eleven-year-old field slave who knows no other life than the Barbados sugar plantation where he was born. When his master’s eccentric brother chooses him to be his manservant, Wash is terrified of the cruelties he is certain await him. But Christopher Wilde, or “Titch,” is a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor, and abolitionist.

He initiates Wash into a world where a flying machine can carry a man across the sky; where two people, separated by an impossible divide, might begin to see each other as human; and where a boy born in chains can embrace a life of dignity and meaning. But when a man is killed and a bounty is placed on Wash’s head, Titch abandons everything to save him.
What follows is their flight along the eastern coast of America, and, finally, to a remote outpost in the Arctic, where Wash, left on his own, must invent another new life, one which will propel him further across the globe.
From the sultry cane fields of the Caribbean to the frozen Far North, Washington Black tells a story of friendship and betrayal, love and redemption, of a world destroyed and made whole again–and asks the question, what is true freedom?

Smaro Kamboureli specializes in contemporary Canadian literature and criticism. Before joining the University of Toronto, she taught at the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph where she was Canada Research Chair (CRC) Tier 1 in Critical Studies in Canadian Literature. Her CRC research project included founding and directing the TransCanada Institute (, organizing three international and interdisciplinary TransCanada conferences, and initiating collaborative research on the methodologies and institutional structures and contexts that inform and shape the production, dissemination, teaching, and study of Canadian literature. Before moving to Guelph, she taught for many years at the University of Victoria where she served as Director of the English graduate program and as the first Associate Dean Research in the Humanities. The recipient of various research grants, she has had her work translated in Portuguese, Japanese, Italian, and Polish and she was a guest professor in Germany and India. On the Board of NeWest Press (Edmonton) and one of its in-house editors since 1981, she is the founder and editor of its series The Writer as Critic ( that has published such Canadian authors as Phyllis Webb, Roy Miki, Fred Wah, Erin Moure, Di Brandt, Daphne Marlatt, and George Bowering. She is also the founder and general editor of the TransCanada Series of books at Wilfrid Laurier University Press ( Her book Scandalous Bodies: Diasporic Literature in English Canada received the Gabrielle Roy Prize for Canadian Criticism, and she was a finalist for the 2011 Lois Hole Award for Editorial Excellence (Book Publishers of Alberta Association) and Tom Fairley Award For Editorial Excellence (Editors’ Association of Canada).Her most recent book publications include Editing as Cultural Practice in Canada (co-edited with Dean Irvine, 2016) and Lee Maracle’s Memory Serve: Oratories (2015), which she edited and to which she contributed an afterword. Her current research revolvews around diasporic and Indigenous literatures in Canada.


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Monday, October 7, 2019
7:45 pm - 8:45 pm EDT


Upper Library
4 Devonshire Place
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2E1 Canada


Massey College