Tuesday, June 12, 2007
The Known World
"The Known World" by Edward P. Jones
2004 Pulitzer Prize
"The Known World" tells the story of the people of Manchester County, Virginia during the 1850's. The novel is focused on Henry Townsend a farmer and former slave. After Henry buys his freedom, he gets his own farm---and begins buying his own slaves to work it. Henry is dying and he's worried his wife, Caldonia, won't be able to keep order on the farm. The book explores slavery from many different viewpoints: The white man who thinks slavery is the answer to economic issues, the slave who wants freedom, and the black man who resorts to slavery because that's the way the world is.
This was an amazing book. Jones' writing style flowed from past to future to present. And it was easy to keep up with who was who, which is incredible since the character list contains 40 people. Jones would drop in tidbits about something that happened 20 years ago or something that would happen in 60. I was left with a sense of the lives of all the characters beyond the book. I'm keeping my copy for rereading someday.