The Known World

The Known World

Paperback - 2003
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In one of the most acclaimed novels in recent memory, Edward P. Jones, two-time National Book Award finalist, tells the story of Henry Townsend, a black farmer and former slave who falls under the tutelage of William Robbins, the most powerful man in Manchester County, Virginia. Making certain he never circumvents the law, Townsend runs his affairs with unusual discipline. But when death takes him unexpectedly, his widow, Caldonia, can't uphold the estate's order and chaos ensues. In a daring and ambitious novel, Jones has woven a footnote of history into an epic that takes an unflinching look at slavery in all of its moral complexities.

This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

Publisher: New York : Amistad, c2003.
ISBN: 9780060557553
Characteristics: 388, 27 pages ;,21 cm.


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LPL_KateG Nov 01, 2017

Extremely detailed historical fiction written about a fascinating subject -- freed blacks who owned slaves prior to the Civil War. Edward Jones really immerses you into the fictional community of Manchester County, VA and delves deep into the characters involved. The timeline and location jumps around quite a bit, which some may find distracting, so heads up if that style is not your preference.

I would *highly* recommend listening to this on audiobook. For Lawrence Public Library patrons, find it on Hoopla!

May 28, 2017

I was eager to read this highly acclaimed story about black slave owners living in the American south. Unfortunately, reading this Pulitzer Prize winning book is a bit like taking a long walk through a forest and wandering around aimlessly for days while waiting for the author to make some kind of point. Each chapter is peppered with pointless characters. Then each of these characters is given a lengthy back story before the author bluntly slams down a brief summary of how they grow old and die thirty years in the future.

Dec 28, 2016

I just loved this book. The rhythm and poetry of the writing, the horrific treatment of human by other humans, the total hopelessness of slavery and yet the dignity and integrity of those who had nothing but their own center moved me greatly.

I loved the way the author would periodically make comments revealing future generations of his characters and their impact. It did not take me out of the story, for me it gave the story depth.

Good book, read it with the rhythm of a great river flowing and you won't be disappointed.

WVMLStaffPicks Jan 05, 2015

Jones, who is a National Book Award finalist, tells an unforgettable story with characters that linger because he makes them so believable. This is a story of slavery – of both blacks and whites – in the southern United States; and of the Townsend family, in particular, who earn their freedom, build a plantation in Virginia, and begin to acquire their own slaves. It’s a world unknown to us today, but to those who suffered under the weight of slavery it was all too real and known.

Apr 12, 2014

elucidates the complexity of individuals, black, white, mixed....the lines blur and criss-cross with skin color and morality.

Mar 17, 2014

This won the Pulitzer and was in a Times list of the best American novels since 1980. So maybe I went in with unreasonable expectations. I did appreciate this story of race and the wages of slavery in the South, with its echoes of Faulkner, Morrison and Twain without really getting into it.

samutavi Aug 15, 2013

I wish they would not label books as "Winner of the Pulitzer Prize". It always gets your hopes up. Then, if you read it and don't love it you think there is something wrong with you (am I not smart enough for this book?). I did not love this book. I'm impressed by Jones' ability to develop such a large, varied cast of characters, but his passing references to future events (character deaths and other eventual plot points) took me out of the moment again and again. That technique robbed the story of its potential power and immediacy.

Apr 09, 2012

Detailed and nuanced story of the effects of living with oppression. A slow and somber read with no relief, but it does draw you into a world that is nearly impossible to imagine.

Apr 28, 2011

This novel opens with immediacy and unforgettable descriptions. It quickly loses momentum, however.

Feb 27, 2010

Interesting book about slavery. Very well written but not a barn burner. One man's attempt to get away and horrible slave owners.

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