When Washington Black won the Giller Prize in 2018, I railed on about Songs for the Cold of Heart being robbed. I said this book was the reason why literary awards were created and all the awards should be thrown at it. And then Washington Black won all the awards. Now, mind you, I hadn’t even read Washington Black yet so saying Songs for the Cold of Heart was robbed of the Giller was perhaps premature?
Even the Shadow Giller jury in 2018 unanimously awarded the prize to Songs for the Cold of Heart! Why does the official Giller jury always get it wrong? (in my eyes, in my opinion at the time! :-))
Fast forward to this summer when I finally read it…. While I adored Songs for the Cold of Heart, and nothing will change that, I do take back some of what I said about it being robbed of the Giller. Washington Black is absolutely a wonderful winning choice and I loved it so, so much, I’m terribly sorry it took me this long to read it!
My bookish friend Jennifer listened to the audio and rated it 5-stars. That’s impressive, as a 5-star rating is quite hard to come by in Jennifer’s books! So I started listening to the audio on the hours drive home I had ahead of me on the 401. I was immediately invested into the story, so much so that I said I NEED to keep reading it. So I opened it on my Kobo (I already owned the e-book, it just sat languishing there) and dove straight in.
I could not stop reading. I never wanted it to end.
Washington Black had everything in it! A grand and epic adventure with such urgency to it, science, sorrow, pain, history, coming of age, travel, love and gorgeous, lush and literary writing.
That ending! Oh my – I just stared off into space haunted, deeply haunted by that ending. Oh my Washington Black, what an incredible character we were gifted with in you.
Described as “A dazzling, original novel of slavery and freedom, from the author of the international bestseller Half-Blood Blues” I’m off to now read Half-Blood Blues – another Giller Prize winner, Edugyan’s first, therefore making Washington Black the first time an author has won the Giller with their consecutively published novels. She is also only the third author to win the Giller more than once.