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D'Aguiar, Fred

slave narrative slaves

(Guyanese, 1960– )

D'Aguiar won several awards with The Longest Memory (1994). Set on an eighteenth-century Virginia slave plantation, the brutality—as when the recaptured slave is beaten while others are ordered to watch—seems muted by the author's literary finesse: the many, very accomplished narrative techniques almost giving an unnatural beauty to the barbarism. In Dear Future (1996) the main character is accidentally hit on the head (with the back of an axe) and this releases strange and telling visionary powers. Through a wide range of comic devices D'Aguiar builds a narrative full of warning. He returns to the slave past in Feeding the Ghosts (1998). A documented incident from the Middle Passage is re-imagined with great power and sensitivity: it is the practice of throwing sick slaves overboard with the dead. As buyers wanted healthy slaves, the insured value of such ‘goods lost at sea’ was likely to be higher than in the marketplace.

Caryl Phillips, Barry Unsworth (Sacred Hunger). See CARIBBEAN  EM

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