Margaret Wrinkle’s luminous, affecting debut novel is the impassioned story of two men and a woman joined by slave breeding in early-nineteenth-century Tennessee. Written as an accusation, a revelation, and a prayer, Wash challenges contemporary assumptions as it transcends time, revealing anew this explosive shard of national history.
Richardson, a troubled Revolutionary War veteran, responds to the pressures of debt and westward expansion by setting Washington, a young man he owns, to work as his breeding sire. As Wash gets drawn into a power struggle with Richardson, he fights to hold onto his West African spiritual legacy. Despair and disease lead him to a potent enslaved healer named Pallas. While their delicate love unfolds, she inspires Wash to forge a new understanding of his heritage and his place in it. As these three lives intertwine, the stories they tell allow them to find solace and mastery. By turns haunting, tender, and redemptive, this boundary-crossing novel carries the reader from the heart of whiteness into the center of ancestral African spirituality until these two contrasting ways of seeing shimmer together. Questioning differences of blood and belief, erasing the line between the living and dead, Wash offers new insights into current racial dilemmas.
Praise for Wash…
"Boldly conceived and brilliantly written, Margaret Wrinkle's Wash reveals the horrible human predation of slavery and its nest of nightmares. With a truthfulness even beyond Faulkner, Wrinkle makes her novelistic debut in a monumental work of unflinching imagination." Sena Jeter Nasland, author of Ahab’s Wife, Four Spirits, Abundance, and Adam and Eve
"Margaret Wrinkle’s Wash is a marvelous window into the world of nineteenth century American slaverya powerful fusion of knowledge and imagination." Madison Smartt Bell, author of All Souls Rising, Master of the Crossroads, and The Stone that the Builder Refused
"A significant and hugely troublesome book." Pinckney Benedict, author of Miracle Boy, Town Smokes, The Wrecking Yard, and Dogs of God
"This majestic, beautifully-written novel will both break your heart and make it wiser." Charles Gaines, author of Stay Hungry, Pumping Iron, A Family Place, and The Next Valley Over
"This exquisite novel is a gift of healing. It exposes the dark and fearsome sin that stains our history, and confronts the guilt that lurks in our collective American soul. But in the genius of the telling we are led to the tenderness at the bone, the humanity at the core, and buoyed by joy." Beverly Swerling Martin, author of the City of God series
"A unique and powerful story, Wash tells a chapter of our past that we would rather look away from. Margaret Wrinkle makes sure that we cannot. Her whole life has led up to this book, and she writes it in a sure and captivating voice, augmented by her remarkable pictures." Kevin Baker, author of Strivers Row, Dreamland, and Paradise Alley