The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation
1, The Pox PartyeBook - 2010
National Book Award Winner!
This deeply provocative novel reimagines the past as an eerie place that has startling resonance for readers today.
It sounds like a fairy tale. He is a boy dressed in silks and white wigs and given the finest of classical educations. Raised by a group of rational philosophers known only by numbers, the boy and his mother - a princess in exile from a faraway land - are the only persons in their household assigned names. As the boy's regal mother, Cassiopeia, entertains the house scholars with her beauty and wit, young Octavian begins to question the purpose behind his guardians' fanatical studies. Only after he dares to open a forbidden door does he learn the hideous nature of their experiments - and his own chilling role in them. Set against the disquiet of Revolutionary Boston, M. T. Anderson's extraordinary novel takes place at a time when American Patriots rioted and battled to win liberty while African slaves were entreated to risk their lives for a freedom they would never claim. The first of two parts, this deeply provocative novel reimagines the past as an eerie place that has startling resonance for readers today.
From the critics
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The Latin for “slave” – servus – as rendered in English literally is “the spared one”; slaves being those taken prisoner in battle, who should, therefore, by all rules of engagement, have been slain. In antiquity, slaves possessed no rights as citizens because, though spared, they were accounted dead, and as the dead, could not be admitted as living men; and so, for generations, the dead toiled and bred in Rome; the dead taught Rome’s children the secrets of philosophy; the dead built Rome’s great monuments and tombs; until the Romans themselves joined the dead, and all that remained were tombs, and monuments, and half-remembered tombs.
And then they imprisoned me in darkness; and though there was no color there, I still was black, and they still were white; and for that, they bound and gagged me.
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