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The Known World [Kindle Edition]

Edward P. Jones
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
Kindle Price: £2.48 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Book Description

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.


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Review

‘This remarkable novel, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award and short-listed for the National Book Award, deserves all the acclaim it has won and then some, especially in this flawless rendition. Bears comparison with Trollope and Faulkner’ AudioFile

‘Heartbreaking….fascinating.’ Newsweek
‘Fascinating…poignant….[A] complex and fine novel.’ Baltimore Sun

‘The Known World is a great novel, one that may eventually be placed with the best of American Literature.’ San Diego Union-Tribune

‘Stunning….His first novel is…likely to win acclaim.’ New York Times

Metro

'...engrossing...the indications of what's to come mean a sense of doom hang over this beautifully crafted tale.'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 533 KB
  • Print Length: 432 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0060557559
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books (17 Mar. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC12GO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • : Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #18,708 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The Known World is a vast, all-encompassing novel of epic proportions that sweeps across the landscape of the County of Manchester, Virginia, and presents us with a broad patchwork of life during the slave years of the 1860's. Edward P. Jones' superior storytelling keeps the reader totally engaged as he jumps backwards and forwards in time, gradually revealing the tortured and often grief-stricken lives of the various inhabitants of Manchester County, both black and white.
Slavery is threatened, and the promise of freedom is now hopeful for many blacks. The abolitionist movement is growing, but having free papers still doesn't necessarily mean much, and in a world where people believe in a God they cannot see and pretend the wind is his voice, a piece of paper often means nothing.
Full of heartache, loss, and the enduring power of the human spirit, The Known World focuses on Henry Townsend, who at 31 has achieved the kind of success, that most black folk can only dream of. Building a small fortune, Henry is now free, owns some land, and is married to Caldonia, an accomplished and educated young woman. In his early years, Henry learnt much from Williams Robbins, his white owner, and now he also owns his own slaves, seemingly without conscience.
The novel begins with Henry's quiet death, and then jumps back in time to the events leading up to the accumulation of his wealth and the sometimes-strained relationship with his parents. The story then moves forward to Caledonia's troubled handling of the estate, where she blurs the lines of behaviour, crosses boundaries, and becomes intimate with Moses, Henry's first slave. Moses, who helped Henry build the plantation years before, is now Henry's overseer, but he chooses to work among his fellow slaves.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do we really know? 31 July 2007
By maya j
Format:Paperback
The Known World is a literary masterpiece. In beginning the book, you wonder how hard it will be to read in the manner of mid-19th century country/slave vernacular, but in page after page, the language just flows, and there is no denying the language is painting a picture of who these people are. There are numerous characters, yet they are so vivid in their representation, it is impossible to get confused as to who did what. Some of the characters you love, and of course, others are just repugnant. As I read The Known World, I felt I could actually hear the singing in the field, smell the smells of the slave barracks, and see the humid, torrid heat of the southern countryside. It's not a typical story about slavery. Former slaves owning slaves is a part of our national footprint I don't think has been written about much. Now, thanks to Edward P. Jones, we possess a manuscript of an amazingly enlightened view of this old world phenomenon. In addition, Edward P. Jones' writing is so eloquent and fluent in the nature of "this world", you wonder if he could have actually lived it. It is a beautiful story that, although sad, is also compelling and makes you feel smug and small in the scheme of this "Known World".
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Stained Glass Assemblage 29 Sept. 2003
Format:Hardcover
Blacks owning blacks is not something that one normally considers when one thinks of the conditions in the South prior to the Civil War. But, though rare, it did exist, and this novel explores one such case, and by doing so helps provide a more complete picture of the Known World, another window into that era and by reflection a vision of the current world.
Perhaps most noticeable at the beginning of the book is the style it is told in. This is not a linear narrative with a well-defined protagonist and a clear-cut set of problems. Instead, Jones jumps from character to character, backward and forward in time, sometimes with his focus on an individual, sometimes reading more like an academic treatise documenting historical occurrences - often doing so even within a single paragraph. Because of this style and the sheer number of characters that are introduced or casually mentioned (over a hundred of them), it is very difficult to get quickly engrossed in this work. Not until almost a hundred fifty pages in does a coherent picture emerge and the characters coalesce from names into being people.
But what does finally emerge is a picture of just how 'free' blacks could really be in that time. Though legally able to buy and sell others, the rights of this miniscule class of people did not extend to the full protection of the law - although as clearly shown here, it didn't extend to many others as well: the poor, the half-breeds, even women as a class. Entry into 'society' is clearly denied, even though some of them were well respected for their skills and general level-headedness. And they always had to carry their papers proving their freedom - in a world where only a few were literate, this is quite an irony as well as being degrading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A book worth talking about... 22 Aug. 2012
Format:Paperback
The Known World, a first novel by Edward P. Jones, won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize and the 2005 IMPAC Award. It joins a long list of novels about slavery, the slave trade and life on the plantations of the southern states of America. The Known World differs from others in this genre, however, in that the slave owners are black and former slaves themselves.

At the start of the novel the reader is introduced to a great many characters in a few pages. You wonder how you will keep up. Especially as these characters confront you with their price tag intact. By stealth, Jones attempts to persuade you to view humans as property... legacy... a commodity that is insurable against accident but not really against age and wear and tear. Where lash marks on a man's back may reduce his potential price by $5 a scar, necessitating other, less visible forms of punishment. You find yourself doing the sums. You can visualize the accounts book. Give a bit here, take a bit there. If that involves splitting up a lifetime partnership, well so be it. Marriages can be inconvenient. The books must balance.

This book is not an easy read, but well worth the effort. Using multiple narrators, many tales are told by different people, so very different points of view are juxtaposed. Time is fluid and, in the manner of oral story-telling, moves back and forth. The reader needs to work a little.

The most startling revelation, that a black slave owner can end up owning his own parents and siblings, shifts the familial dynamics in ways that surprise and shock. Black slave owners inhabit two worlds. To be taken seriously as businessmen and women, they must be seen to be working within established systems.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars storytelling at it's best
I've been reading through the 'Best Books of the Century' and puzzled at a couple of them. But Edward P Jones is an astonishing storyteller who captured me from the outset of this... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mr. Philip I. Butler
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
good
Published 9 months ago by xxx
3.0 out of 5 stars Anne Morritt, Malaga Spain
I found this book a bit naive and "preachy" Also it kept skipping a bit confusingly in time, often giving away things you would rather not know at that point in the... Read more
Published on 9 Dec. 2012 by Charles David Morritt
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull and full of digressions
This was one of those books that I didn't really 'get'. It's received such good reviews from elsewhere, and won two prestigious literary prizes, yet I wouldn't consider it any... Read more
Published on 10 Jan. 2009 by BookWorm
5.0 out of 5 stars Do we really know?
The Known World is a literary masterpiece. In beginning the book, you wonder how hard it will be to read in the manner of mid-19th century country/slave vernacular, but in page... Read more
Published on 31 July 2007 by maya j
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece
This is a powerful and absorbing book with an unusual format - lots of interweaving stories and jumps forward in time as well as backwards. Read more
Published on 4 May 2007 by Patricia Ferguson
3.0 out of 5 stars Slavery epic fails to fully engage
Over the past decade, a number of novels that have been both personal favourites and received significant critical acclaim have dealt with various dimensions of the issue of... Read more
Published on 24 May 2005 by "gavinrob2001"
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting concept, bad execution
The thought tha free black men could be masters of slaves was what drew me to the book.
However, the characters aren't fully developed, there are plotlines presented and... Read more
Published on 3 Oct. 2004 by D Filipe
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece
To be able to return, again and again, to a work in order to be nourished and to learn and to be ENGAGED...that's what the best of literature can do. Read more
Published on 30 Dec. 2003 by Melvin G. Brennan III
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