Englischsprachige Literatur

Edugyan Esi

Washington Black

Profile Books, London 2018


The young coloured Canadian writer has already won several prizes. In this, her third novel she tells the story of Wash (Washington! Black), a young black slave on a British run sugar plantation on Barbados. He witnesses senseless cruelty towards his fellow slaves by their master.

Then the master´s brother Christopher “Hitch” Wilde adopts him, because he is just the right size to accompany him in an airship he is building. And young Wash is a gifted illustrator, which also serves Hitch well. In a trial run of the airship, Wash ist seriusly burnt, his face full of scars from the experiment. When Christopher´s cousin, the man who caused the Wash´s injuries, kills himself while together with Wash, Christopher flees with him in the airship, they crash in a storm, only to find themselves on a ship destined for Nova Scotia.

And so their adventures begin and take all too many twists and turns until finally Wash finds himself in England in the company of a famous biologist and his daughter Tanna. They build “Ocean World”, a kind of maritime zoo, invented and designed by Wash, although he knows, his name will never appear in the project.

He does not give up his search for Hitch and finally they meet in Morocco, where Wash confronts him with the fact, that he never really treated him as equal, more or less used him, too.

So the novel comes at the right moment, with “Black lives matter” giving it extra momentum. But, honestly, does not every relationship have mutual use for those involved? And is the fact, that Hitch saved Wash´s life more than once, not a value of its own.?