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Historical Fiction You Cannot Do Without
on 14 December 2004
Barry Unsworth's novel does deserve the Booker Prize that it won. From the moment I picked it up it was impossible to put down. The novel starts with a description of two classes in 18th century England: the working class and the burgeoning mercantile class exemplified by Erasmus Kemp. I particularly like the way Barry Unsworth portrays bawdy tavern speak using its clipped sounds and mispronounced words.
Sacred Hunger races between gaudy mansions of the nouveau riche in the English countryside and the slave dealers abode in humid, hot West Africa. It underlines the common humanity in us all and the questions that injustice raises. The novel's ace-in-the-hole is that he does not adopt a moralizing tone on the issue of slave trade. The novel is a stark description of our pitiful, insatiable greed, which was the cause of the the injustice that was the Slave Trade.
If you are a serious history buff looking for some perspective into the Slave Trade then this is not the book for you. However, if you want a fantastic bit of storytelling with the slave trade as a backdrop then you must read this one.