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WINNER OF THE 1992 BOOKER PRIZE 'Gripping ...SACRED HUNGER covers a period between 1752 and 1765 ...it concerns the entangled and conflicted fortunes of two cousins: Erasmus Kemp, the son of a Lancashire merchant, and Matthew Paris, a scholar and surgeon just released from prison for "denying Holy Writ" ...the Liverpool Merchant is the vessel on which the whole of the novel hinges, and it carries the reader deep into the history of man's iniquitous greed ...AS REGARDS ITS DRAMATIC BREADTH AND ENERGY, NO RECENT DOMESTIC NOVEL HAS COME WITHIN A MILE OF IT' - Anthony Quinn in the Independent

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780140119930
ISBN-10: 0140119930
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 38mm)
Pages: 640
Imprint: Penguin Books Ltd
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publish Date: 4-Feb-1993
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » Centering on the voyage of a mid-18th-century slave-trading ship, this is a magnificent tale of corruption and greed, of men under pressure and moral choices. In 1752, on a wave of optimism, the Liverpool Merchant sets sail to buy and sell African slaves. The owner and captain are looking for a quick profit; the crew are seduced by visions of lewd African women. But once the slaves are on board disease spreads through the cramped ship, leading to acts of barbarity which bring about bloody consequences. Booker Prize winner 1992. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » A masterful, thoroughly engrossing tale from acclaimed historical novelist Unsworth (Pascali's Island, 1980; Stone Virgin, 1986) - about the British slave trade in the mid-18th century and a shipboard mutiny from which arose a community based on racial equality. Through the perspectives of Erasmus Kemp, son of the shipowner and an obsessive, insensitive youth; and Matthew Paris - his cousin, a doctor (and ship's physician) recently imprisoned for publishing his seditious views in favor of evolution - Unsworth contrasts imagery of a genteel life in England with an increasingly brutal, barbaric existence under the command of the maniacal Captain Thurso. As slaves are collected from traders along the African coast, the fortunes of the owner decline precipitously, with his suicide and the ruin of Erasmus's fanciful plans of empire-building and grandeur through a good marriage the result. Becalmed, the ship's human cargo begins to sicken and die, and an increasingly vexed Thurso opts to alleviate matters by throwing ailing slaves overboard - an act spurring Paris and the crew to kill him. 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 human beings, has spared no effort to hunt down the cousin whom he blames for the loss of his dream. Intense in its elaboration of two vastly different visions of destiny and cause-and-effect, more steeped in history than Charles Johnson's Middle Passage: a riveting, outstanding addition to an already impressive oeuvre. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Barry Unsworth

Barry Unsworth won the Booker Prize with SACRED HUNGER and has been shortlisted for PASCALI'S ISLAND and MORALITY PLAY. He is author of many other acclaimed novels. Originally from Durham he now lives in Italy.

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