Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth

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Winner of the Booker Prize

A historical novel set in the eighteenth century, Sacred Hunger is a stunning, engrossing exploration of power, domination, and greed in the British Empire as it entered fully into the slave trade and spread it hroughout its colonies. Barry Unsworth follows the failing fortunes of William Kemp, a merchant pinning his last chance to a slave ship; his son who needs a fortune because he is in love with an upper-class woman; and his nephew who sails on the ship as its doctor because he has lost all he has loved. The voyage meets its demise when disease spreads among the slaves and the captain's drastic response provokes a mutiny. Joining together, the sailors and the slaves set up a secret, utopian society in the wilderness of Florida, only to await the vengeance of the single-minded, young Kemp.

About Barry Unsworth

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Barry Unsworth (1930-2012), who won the Booker Prize for Sacred Hunger, was a Booker Prize finalist for Morality Play and was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize for The Ruby in Her Navel.
Published January 10, 2012 by Anchor. 644 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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After landing on the remote coast of Florida, ex-slaves and sailors live in freedom for 12 years--inspired by the utopian ideals of an itinerant artist picked up in Africa--until they are captured by soldiers under Erasmus, who, consumed by the same sacred hunger for wealth that made chattel of h...

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Publishers Weekly

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With an epic ambition that seems suited to its 18th-century setting, Unsworth ( Stone Virgin ) takes on a big theme--greed, the animating ``sacred hunger'' of the title--but at the same time fills his huge canvas with the alternately fascinating and horrifying details of shipboard life, colonial ...

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London Review of Books

There is juice on the windshield where it hit.’ In the finely crafted title story, ‘The Wrecking Yard’, rural America’s truck-borne equivalent of the Cornish wreckers go looking for salvage among the bloody meat of a cattle truck, memorably ‘rear-ended by a highballin hog-truck’, and later watch ...

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Culture Mob

For the casual reader of historical novels The Quality of Mercy will come as a rare treat, a work of fiction where the historical elements are perfectly integrated into the narrative – but Unsworth’s intention is far greater than a simulacrum of reality.

Jan 20 2012 | Read Full Review of Sacred Hunger

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