Van has finished reading…Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth

19 Jan

The cover of this book is enough to prepare you for the horrors that may follow – the book is hemmed with a block print of slaves laid out in the belly of a slave ship. It’s the bald presentation of the facts of the voyage that really give it power though. It’s never overdone, which heightens the sense of the everyday about it.

While it may seem strange to talk of the ‘facts of the voyage’ when talking about a fiction novel, I’m left in no doubt that all these things are included because they featured in Unsworth’s research. It’s not the fact that people could do these things to other people however that alarms the most. Unsworth captures a terrifying mindset in the nature of the ‘masters’ in this piece. The moral imperative that lends credence to the title Sacred Hunger is at once illuminating and horrific. As justification it is priceless, and mirrors so perversely that other hunger for freedom, or at the least for respect, that it truly frames the darkness in the hearts of humans trapped in their own history.

Not for the faint-hearted, but definitely worth the effort.


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