“Historical novel” isn’t quite the right term for this book, which strips that particular genre down to bare bones… To this portrayal of enslavement at its most brutal, Ward adds an element of the fantastic, using it—like recent writers from Colson Whitehead and Kaitlyn Greenidge to adrienne maree brown and Alexis Pauline Gumbs—to ask questions about power, agency, and past and future choices.

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