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Customer Review

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mapping History, August 3, 2004
This review is from: The Known World: A Novel (Paperback)
Some of the things I liked about The Known World:

* The chapter titles. Partly just because I enjoy trying to predict what they mean before reading the chapter, partly because I believe they reveal what the author thinks is important.

* The freshly unconventional non-linear narrative style. Jones employs it in this novel as well as many of his short stories.

* The fact that this novel's technical aspects (grammar, usage, etc...) anger purists.

* The controversial subject matter (freed slaves as slave owners), of which many astute antebellum history scholars may already be familiar but of which I was not.

* Most of the vast array of characters, like Alice for example, who was kicked in the head by a mule and rendered incoherent. She becomes the novel's transcendental figure, relegated to wandering the plantation's surrounding woods at night and chanting nonsensical verse.

Some of the things I disliked about The Known World:

* Too many characters. I just couldn't keep them all straight in my, perhaps, enfeebled mind.

* Predictable ending. Jones, I'm guessing, tries a twist, but it's nothing you haven't seen (or read) before.

So, as you can see, I liked more than I disliked about this book. I would definitely recommend it to curious readers. I'm not so sure I agree with its Pulitzer Prize status, but if it attracts more readers then that's a good thing.
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Location: NW of New York City

Top Reviewer Ranking: 49,088