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Wash by Margaret Wrinkle
Atlantic Monthly Press, February 2013
(ISBN 978-0-8012-2066-3)

“Boldly conceived and brilliantly written, Margaret Wrinkle’s Wash reveals the horrible human predation of slavery and its nest of nightmares.
With a truthfulness even beyond Faulkner, Wrinkle makes her novelistic debut in a monumental work of unflinching imagination.” -Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab’s Wife

“Wrinkle masterfully takes us on a powerful journey through the darkest past and present of this country, boldly addressing the chasm of racial divide with the scalpel of a gruesome truth. Wash is the epitome of courage and determination to heal the central wound of this culture.”  -Malidoma Patrice Some, author of The Healing Wisdom of Africa


In this luminous and spirited debut, Margaret Wrinkle takes us on an unforgettable journey across continents and through time, from the burgeoning American South to West Africa and deep into the ancestral stories that reside in the soul.  Wash introduces a remarkable new voice in American literature.

Along the Tennessee frontier in the early 1800s, two men find themselves locked in an intimate power struggle.  Richardson, a troubled Revolutionary War veteran, has spent his life fighting not only for his country but also for wealth and status.  But when the pressures of westward expansion and debt threaten to destroy everything he’s built, he embarks on an audacious plan.  He sets Washington, a young man he owns, to work as his breeding sire.  Wash, the first member of his family to be born into slavery, struggles to hold onto his only solace: the spirituality and faith inherited from his shamanic mother.  As he navigates the treacherous currents of his position, despair and disease lead him to a potent healer named Pallas.  Their tender love unfolds against this turbulent backdrop while she inspires him to forge a new understanding of his heritage and his place in it.  Once Richardson and Wash find themselves at a crossroads, all three lives are pushed to the brink.

Written as an accusation, a revelation and a prayer, this boundary-crossing novel carries the reader from the heart of whiteness into the center of ancestral African spirituality and back again until these two contrasting ways of seeing shimmer together.  Questioning all differences of blood and belief, erasing even the line between the living and the dead, Wash reveals anew this explosive shard of our national history.