'The Known World'

Novel Offers a New Look at the Nature of Slavery

Listen: Hear Price Cobbs' Review of 'The Known World'

Edward Jones

hide captionAuthor Edward Jones

Jerry Bauer, courtesy HarperCollins
'The Known World' book cover

hide captionThe Known World

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Prior to the Civil War, some free black people owned slaves. Author Edward P. Jones picked up on that little-known fact and has written a vivid first novel that looks at slavery through a different lens. On Morning Edition, hear an interview with Jones and a review of The Known World.

"A sprawling story built around a morally bankrupt social institution," The Known World is "a meditation on entrenched evil," reports Martha Woodroof, of member station WMRA.

Jones collected two shelves of books about slavery, but never got around to reading them. Still, the author was able to use his imagination, and stories he had heard growing up, to make his characters come alive. "I decided the people I'd created were real enough and I had just accumulated enough information about what the world was like in the South before 1865 to allow me to lie and get away with it," he says.

Jones' novel has won critical acclaim for its unique and imaginative nature and is a finalist for this year's National Book Awards. In a review for Morning Edition, Price Cobbs says The Known World "plausibly evokes how slavery made victims of both blacks and whites and still haunts the historical memory of America."

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