Esi Edugyan, author of the novel, “Washington Black,” in conversation with Richard Wolinsky.
< Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, to Ghanaian immigrant parents, Edugyan studied creative writing at the University of Victoria, where she was mentored by Jack Hodgins. She also earned a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars. Her debut novel, The Second Life of Samuel Tyne, was published in 2004 and was shortlisted for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award in 2005.
Despite favorable reviews for her first novel, Edugyan had difficulty securing a publisher for her second fiction manuscript. She spent some time as a writer-in-residence in Stuttgart, Germany. This period inspired her to drop her unsold manuscript and write another novel, Half-Blood Blues, about a mixed-race jazz musician in World War II-era Europe who is abducted by the Nazis as a “Rhineland Bastard“. Published in 2011, Half-Blood Blues was announced as a shortlisted nominee for that year’s Man Booker Prize.>
Washington Black tells the story of a young slave in Barbados in the 1840s who is taken under the wing of the abolitionist brother of his master. The novel follows his adventures as he wends his way through the world.
Recorded at Book Passage bookstore in Corte Madera, California. Special thanks to Elaine Petrocelli.
An extended 34-minute edit of this interview can be found as a Radio Wolinsky podcast.