My reading of this debut novel by a highly acclaimed writer of non-fiction was somewhat interrupted by recent events and I fear I can't do it justice. There are links to two thoughtful reviews at the end of this post -- I won't attempt to better them.
But here are my personal takeaways.
I was moved by the humanity in the portrayal of life among the enslaved and especially by the recounting of the survival of African traditions.
The leap into magical realism--wherein the protagonist and some others have a magical power called conduction that allows some bending of time and space--was quite a departure from the usual historical narrative of those times.
But I so understand the desire to give extraordinary power to the oppressed and enslaved. I did something similar in The Day of Small Things when I gave supernatural strength and magic to the octogenarian Miss Birdie, wanting to empower an old woman who would normally be helpless in the face of such adversity.
I'm going to work on making this a part of my vocabulary. After all, I've managed to learn to do one space instead of two after a period and to use the term Asian rather than Oriental. I can learn.
It's not so much a matter of political correctness as it is a matter of politeness. Even kindness.
NYT review HERE and NPR review RIGHT HERE