Barbados slave saga moving from book to TV series


By Stephen Weir

Remember Washington Black?

Esi Edugyan

Well, he`s back in the news.

The story of the young Barbados slave who ends up travelling the world, will be coming to television, now that the rights to Esi Edugyan’s award winning novel have just been purchased by a Hollywood company.

Edugyan’s Washington Black was the book of the year in Canada last year and is now proving to a world-beater in sales. It won the $100,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize and was a finalist for both the prestigious UK Man Booker Prize and Canada’s 2018 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction honours.

Washington Black is the story of George Washington Black, an eleven-year-old field slave living on a Barbados sugar plantation. From the brutal cane plantations to the icy waters of the Canadian Arctic, from the mud-filled streets of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black is the tale – inspired by a true story – of a world destroyed by slavery and the search to make it whole again.

Esi Edugyan made history in 2011 by being the first Black woman to win the Scotiabank Giller Prize for her novel Half-Blood Blues. Her second win of the Giller with Washington Black solidified her position as one of the country’s most important contemporary writers.

Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta to Ghanaian immigrant parents, Edugyan studied creative writing at the University of Victoria in British Colombia.  She lives in Victoria with her husband poet Steven Price and their eight-year old child.

Earlier this week, Hollywood’s Variety had a big movie scoop out of California. It learned that 20th Century Fox TV, has just won an intense bidding war for the rights to bring Esi Edugyan’s “Washington Black” to television

“The novel will be adapted for a limited series for TV by Selwyn Seyfu Hinds, with Edugyan on board as an executive producer,” reported Variety.  Hinds is a producer and writer, known for Who Fears DeathRunning a Thousand Miles for Freedom and Prince of Cats.

Fans of Edugyan living in the GTA will have a chance to meet the author and ask her questions about the Washington Black novel and the coming TV series. She will be headlining Brampton’s May 2-5th Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD)

She will be opening FOLD on May 2nd at the Brampton Art Gallery (PAMA) with a solo 90 minute lecture and talk back session with the audience and moderator radio host Bee Quammie.  The session is billed as the Esi Edugyan Book Club and begins at 4.30 pm.  Later that evening she will also be part of a Black Writers Matter panel at the Brampton City Hall.  Joining Edugyan on stage will be authors Cecil Foster, Whitney French, Ian Williams and Natasha Williams.