The Known World

Jones, Edward P.

eBook - 2003
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Known World

Publisher: New York : PerfectBound, 2003
Edition: 1st ed
Branch Call Number: OverDrive downloadable ebook
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc


From Library Staff

Did you know that in the old South, there were black people who owned slaves? In this 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.

Did you know that there were free black people in the South who actually owned slaves themselves? This well-written book ranges between the past and future and back again to the present, weaving together the lives of freed and enslaved blacks, whites, and Indians -- allowing readers a deeper unde... Read More »

Won the 2004 National Book Critics Circle; the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction; and the 2005 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. • The Known World 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... Read More »

In this Pulitzer Prize winning novel Jones approaches a little explored chapter in antebellum history, that of African American slave owners. Set several decades before the beginning of the Civil War, this title skillfully weaves plot, time, and perspective amongst a diverse and powerful cast of ... Read More »

Henry Townsend, a black farmer and former slave, becomes the protege of a powerful white landowner and in turn prospers and buys his own slaves.

From the critics

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Jan 05, 2015
  • WVMLStaffPicks rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

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
  • sxl rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

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

Mar 17, 2014
  • lukasevansherman rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

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.

Aug 15, 2013
  • samutavi rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

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
  • lalalady rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

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
  • carol554 rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

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

Feb 27, 2010
  • Darrelln rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

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

Dec 06, 2007
  • Cabby rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Winner of the 2004 Pulitzer prize for fiction.


Add a Summary

Henry Townsend, a black farmer, boot maker, and former slave, has a fondness for Paradise Lost and an unusual mentor -- William Robbins, perhaps the most powerful man in antebellum Virginia's Manchester County. Under Robbins's tutelage, Henry becomes proprietor of his own plantation -- as well as of his own slaves. 432p.


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