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by Barry Unsworth

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Home Barry Unsworth Sacred Hunger. My uncle is the owner of the ship I am serving on. I could have gone to another part of England or to one of the colonies. I could have gone to America, where there is need for doctors. You needed to get away then? ’ The gentle matter-of-factness of this brought a tightness to Paris’s throat that he had not anticipated.

First published in 1992. Winner of that year’s Booker Prize. Nothing can restore him now to Mather’s text, but he sits at the entrance to the labyrinth of min. OOK ONE. To John, Madeleine and Felix Reiss. I should like to thank the British Council for the grant of a six-month Visiting Scholarship to Sweden and the staffs of the English Department and Library of Lund University, where the background reading for this novel was done, for their unfailing help and kindness. 1752-1753. 1 144. 0. Published: 1992.

FREE shipping on qualifying offers. Winner of the Booker Prize Liverpool, 1752. William Kemp has lost a fortune in cotton speculation.

I've been becalmed aboard Unsworth's narrative vehicle, a slave ship called The Liverpool Merchant. There have been doldrums off the coast of Africa, destructive bouts of flux, and mutinies. There have been been grim truths about the triangular trade and what it means to transport human beings as cargo.

Barry Unsworth was born in 1930 in a mining village in Durham, and he attended Stockton-on-Tees Grammar School and . Discover new books on Goodreads. See if your friends have read any of Barry Unsworth's books.

Barry Unsworth was born in 1930 in a mining village in Durham, and he attended Stockton-on-Tees Grammar School and Manchester University, .

Barry Unsworth FRSL (10 August 1930 – 4 June 2012) was an English writer known for his historical fiction. He published 17 novels, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times, winning once for the 1992 novel Sacred Hunger. Unsworth was born on 10 August 1930 in Wingate, a mining village in County Durham, England, to a family of miners. His father first entered the mines at age 12 and ordinarily Unsworth would have followed him as a miner

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On the second day following, helped by the constant flow of the stream and a fair wind from the south-east, they drew level with Anastasia Island and by the middle of the afternoon, crossing the bar. at high tide, they had anchored in the harbour of Still Augustine.

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 throughout 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.

Winner of the 1992 Booker Prize for Fiction: "Possibly the best novel I've read in the last decade."―David Halberstam

Sacred Hunger is a stunning and engrossing exploration of power, domination, and greed. Filled with the "sacred hunger" to expand its empire and its profits, England entered full into the slave trade and spread the trade throughout its colonies. In this Booker Prize-winning work, 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.

Comments: (7)

When I had the opportunity to read Barry Unsworth's "Sacred Hunger," I jumped at the chance, and not because this author won the Booker Prize. I didn't know a thing about him, had never heard of him, and couldn't have cared if he had won any prize related to writing. All I knew was that I could receive credit for a directed readings class at my university for reading the novel. The topic I was working on at the time concerned Atlantic history, a hot area of research for historians, and most of the books I read up to this point were lengthy, scholarly works full of footnotes and massive bibliographies. So when my professor suggested the idea of a novel covering many of the same themes, I readily accepted. Who wouldn't take a break from the tedium of academia? I quickly discovered that Unsworth's book involved a bit of work to get through. This novel isn't a mass-market paperback type read, not by a long shot. It's an incredibly well researched, multilayered piece of historical fiction that manages to incorporate nearly every aspect of the slave trade while maintaining a level of prose that would make Charles Dickens stand up and applaud.

"Sacred Hunger" follows many characters throughout its 600 plus pages, from lowly sailors to venture capitalists to slaves to dozens of other major and minor characters. The overarching storyline involves one William Kemp, a wealthy English cotton merchant currently down on his luck, and his effort to reap a quick profit from the slave trade circa 1750. He commissions the building of a vessel for just such a purpose, hires a bellicose tar by the name of Saul Thurso to helm the ship, and stakes his entire fortune on its success. He even enlists his nephew Matthew Paris, a physician who spent time in prison for challenging church dogma, to serve as the ship's doctor. The book flip flops back and forth from the travails of the slave voyage to the adventures of William's son Erasmus, a dour young capitalist whose plans revolve around marrying the daughter of a wealthy businessman and expanding his own family's holdings once his father passes on. Erasmus's plans come to naught when the slave ship disappears somewhere in the Caribbean, leading to a series of events that take many years to unravel. It takes that long to ascertain that Thurso's ship didn't just disappear into thin air, but was hijacked through a mutiny involving slaves, shipmates, and Matthew Paris.

Unsworth spares no effort to convey to the reader a sense of actually witnessing the slave trade up close and personal. We learn of the vile techniques used to impress hapless sailors into maritime service through the stories of unfortunate wretches such as Billy Blair and the fiddle player Michael Sullivan. The book shows us the utter brutality inflicted by Thurso and his subordinates on both slaves and the crew. We sit in open-mouthed wonder as we witness how the captains of these ships bartered with African kings over their "cargo." We see the ravages of disease on both slavers and slaves alike. And we quickly understand how the sale of human beings degrades everyone involved, from the merchants to the government to the Africans. The author even takes time out of his busy schedule to show how the English drove a wedge between Indian tribes in their quest to acquire territory in North America. Every negative aspect of Atlantic history--the class issues, slavery, territorial ambition, unrestricted trade, greed, murder, and torture--appear in this book in intricate and often nauseating detail. Don't come into this book expecting a joyful experience. The themes in "Sacred Hunger" are serious business, and Unsworth treats them as such.

Without a doubt, the prose work is the best element of the book. Sentences spark and pop off the page as Unsworth effortlessly captures the tones and rhythms of eighteenth century speech. Whether he's writing dialogue that comes out of the mouths of upper class English elites or the singsong slang of the sailors, the effect is always totally believable. Heck, he even pulls off Pidgin English in the latter part of the book! So excellent is the prose that it's easy to overlook the deep thematic structures of the story. Don't forget that you're reading a narrative that attempts to examine the struggle between unfettered capitalism on the one hand and utopian socialism on the other. A deep pessimism about free markets seems to run throughout the book, which I don't necessarily agree with, but at the same time Unsworth doesn't reject that form of social organization entirely. I don't want to spoil the conclusion for you, but it's obvious at the end that the author recognizes that socialism isn't all its cracked up to be either. No matter what your position is regarding political organization, this book will definitely make you challenge your dearly held convictions. If you seek a more challenging theme than the rather obvious capitalism/socialism duality, try to identify each character's "sacred hunger."

Speaking of the conclusion (which I still won't spoil), did anyone else wonder about the character's sudden questioning of everything he held dear up to that point? I know I did. An individual this single-minded and...well...evil most likely wouldn't possess the mental faculties necessary to examine his motivations. I'll grant that this ending helped take some of the gruesome edges off the story, and it is poignant in its own way, but it just doesn't make much sense. Perhaps Unsworth wanted to leave his readers with a glimmer of hope that exploitation could give way to compassion and introspection. Whatever the case, pick up this book when you get a chance and follow the brass button. You won't be disappointed.
I can't say that I enjoyed reading this book. But I did find it fascinating, enlightening, wonderfully written and thought provoking. The title refers to the hunger for profit and societal status that is evidently engrained in human beings-- at least some of us, maybe most of us-- and the cost of this hunger to the rest of humanity. Set in the mid-18th century, the two central characters are English cousins. Erasmus Kemp is the son of an ambitious merchant whose hopes for financial redemption lie in a slave ship that he is backing. Erasmus is a materialistic, self-centered young man who is focused only on his own aggrandizement. He hates his cousin Matthew Paris, who is everything Erasmus is not. Paris is a doctor, an intellectual, and a progressive thinker. He's been imprisoned for publishing his heretical views on evolution, and while he was being humiliated and incarcerated his beloved wife and unborn child died. He's guilt-ridden and doesn't much care about his future, which is why he agrees to become the physician on the slave ship his uncle owns.

No one, it seems, is blameless in the slave trade. Not the sailors forced into service and treated, in some cases, as cruelly as the human cargo. Not the Africans who sell their captured countrymen for beads and muskets. Not the English, whose hunger for worthless and harmful sugar fuels their hunger for an inhuman trade in humanity. Not Matthew Paris, who, despite his distaste for cruelty and injustice, is complicit in the slave trade. He examines the Africans brought on board to ensure that they are healthy enough to survive the journey so they can be resold.

It's clear from the beginning of the novel that nothing good will ultimately come of all this. How could it? But for a brief time there is hope A Paradise found. A Paradise lost.

Barry Unsworth's view of human nature may be on target. It may be the way things were and are and always will be, in one way or another. But there's no joy in reading about it.
Sacred Hunger download epub
Genre Fiction
Author: Barry Unsworth
ISBN: 0393311147
Category: Literature & Fiction
Subcategory: Genre Fiction
Language: English
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (November 17, 1993)
Pages: 656 pages