Reviews for El Mundo Conocido / The Known World

Criticas Reviews 2006 November
In this 2004 Pulitzer Prize-winner, Jones explores an often-neglected chapter of American history--the world of blacks who owned blacks in the antebellum South. Henry Townsend, a 31-year-old former slave-and master of 33 slaves of his own in Manchester County, VA, is dying and worried about the fate of his holdings. As a slave in his youth, Henry made himself indispensable to his master, William Robbins, and he retains his allegiance to Robbins even after Henry's parents purchase the family's freedom. A cruel master, Robbins is desperately in love with a black woman and feels as much fondness for Henry as he does for his own children. He patronizes the shoemaker's shop that Henry sets up and later helps him buy his first plantation and slaves; Henry, in turn, beats his slaves as readily as Robbins does. Jones paints a complex and startling picture of life in the region at that time, and his narrative achieves crushing momentum through the sheer accumulation of detail and generous character writing. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.