The Known World

The Known World

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From National Book Award-nominated author Edward P. Jones comes a debut novel of stunning emotional depth and unequaled literary power

Henry Townsend, a farmer, boot maker, and former slave, through the surprising twists and unforeseen turns of life in antebellum Virginia, becomes proprietor of his own plantation—as well his own slaves. When he dies, his widow Caldonia succumbs to profound grief, and things begin to fall apart at their plantation: slaves take to escaping under the cover of night, and families who had once found love under the weight of slavery begin to betray one another. Beyond the Townsend household, the known world also unravels: low-paid white patrollers stand watch as slave &#8220speculators&#8221 sell free black people into slavery, and rumors of slave rebellions set white families against slaves who have served them for years.

An ambitious, courageous, luminously written masterwork, The Known World seamlessly weaves the lives of the freed and the enslaved—and allows all of us a deeper understanding of the enduring multidimensional world created by the institution of slavery. The Known World not only marks the return of an extraordinarily gifted writer, it heralds the publication of a remarkable contribution to the canon of American classic literature.

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.

“Jones has written a book of tremendous moral intricacy.” “A masterpiece that deserves a place in the American literary canon.” “Breathtaking….A fascinating counterweight to Toni Morrison’s Beloved….It is essential reading.” ” An exemplar of historical fiction. . . [it] will subdue your preconceptions, enrich your perceptions and trouble your sleep.. . .The way Jones tells this story. . .recalls Cormac McCarthy, William Faulkner and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.” ” An exemplar of historical fiction. . . [it] will subdue your preconceptions, enrich your perceptions and trouble your sleep.. . .The way Jones tells this story. . .recalls Cormac McCarthy, William Faulkner and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.” “Astonishingly rich. . .The particulars and consequences of the ‘right’ of humans to own other humans are dramatized with unprecedented ingenuity and intensity, in a harrowing tale that scarcely ever raises its voice. . . . It should be a major prize contender.” “A stunning debut novel.” “Fascinating…poignant….[A] complex and fine novel.” “A strong, intricate, daring book by a writer of deep compassion and uncommon gifts.” “Stunning….His first novel is…likely to win acclaim.” “If Jones. . .keeps up this level of work, he’ll equal the best fiction Toni Morrison has written about being black in America.” “One of those rare works of fiction that both wound and heal.” “’The Known World’ is a great novel, one that may eventually be placed with the best of American Literature.” “Heartbreaking….fascinating.” “Brilliant….Glorious….[The Known World] belongs on the shelf with other classics of slavery, like Toni Morrison’s “Beloved.” “Fascinating . . .There is grief and fear, genuine affection an envy in this complex and fine novel.” “A major achievement.” “Extraordinary…..Nothing…quite prepares readers for the imaginative leaps and technical prowess of ‘The Known World.’” “A profoundly beautiful and insightful look at American slavery and human nature.” “Vivid….[An] epic novel.” “Beautifully written . . .[it] ought to enjoy the massive readership that Charles Frazier’s runaway hit, Cold Mountain did.” “Brilliant…Jones’ novel movingly evokes one small landscape of a larger map that so stubbornly yields up its truths today” “Stunning….Pitch-perfect….Too much cannot be said about Mr. Jones gifts as a storyteller and a stylist.” “Once you start the book you are hooked….Consider this novel necessary reading.” “This…magical novel will touch you in a profound way.” “Complex, beautifully written, and breathtaking…the book will knock the wind out of you with the depth of its compassion.” “Heartrending….[The Known World] walks with the pace and solemnity of the Bible.” “[A] powerful, multigenerational saga.” “Jones has written a book of tremendous moral intricacy.” “An incredible saga.” “Destined for a permanent spot on the…shelf of great American novels about slavery, next to Morrison…and Faulkner.” “A grand and inspired work of historical fiction. . .[It] deserves every word of praise that comes its way.” “A masterpiece that deserves a place in the American literary canon.”

Additional information

Weight 12 oz
Dimensions 1 × 5 × 8 in