Sacred Hunger

Sacred Hunger

by Barry Unsworth


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525434115
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/22/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 640
Sales rank: 372,772
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Barry Unsworth (1930-2012), who won the Booker Prize for Sacred Hunger, was a Booker Prize finalist for Morality Play and was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize for The Ruby in Her Navel.

Read an Excerpt

The ship he meant was the Liverpool Merchant, Captain Saul Thurso, and he had never seen her, though she carried the seeds Of all his dreams in her hold.

Excerpted from "Sacred Hunger"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Barry Unsworth.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sacred Hunger 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Debt, slavery, the nature of justice and morality. Screw you Ayn Rand.
Goodreadercarol More than 1 year ago
I am guilty of starting a book, and if it is slow going after about 100 pages, I put it down and (sometimes) never go back. I almost did that on Sacred Hunger, and am really glad I persevered. The book has great historical details on shipbuilding, life aboard a slave ship, early British society, the history of early Florida and the African slave trade. The characters are flawed, the story is dark, but absolutely wonderful. Great book for a book club. A very powerful book--one of the best I have read.
Packleader3 More than 1 year ago
While I'm 3/4 of the way through this book, I find it most interesting in looking back at the slave trade and the early settling of Florida. The characters are somewhat dark, but they seem to work well with the subject and the reality of those days. Life was harsh and conditions for black slaves were abominable. It breaks your heart as you feel the plight of black slaves and the emotional pain of leaving their entire life and loved ones behind for a life (if they survived) of being less than a dog. If you like history I highly suggest this. While I can't say it's exciting, I have already purchased the next book in the series to see where it goes. It does have a way of taking you in with its characters.
vibrantminds on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Enticed by the profits to be made in the slave trade, William Kemp invests in a ship to cash in on the profits. His nephew Matthew Paris is a doctor and intends to go with the ship to escape his current life. He has recently been released from prison for defending the rights of free speech. His wife and child died while in prison and he feels like he has nothing to stay in England for. Kemp's son Erasmus is disgusted by Paris' behavior and feels like his father is being too generous towards him. The ship embarks for Africa and begins to buy slave cargo. The slave ship's description is brought vividly to the forefront; the stench, filth, degradation, and humiliation is meant to not be forgotten. Once underway the ship is hit with an onslaught of illness, slaves and crew alike dying left and right. The ship never meets its destination and is considered lost. William Kemp realizing his ruin takes his life and leaves his son Erasmus with an encompassing debt. His life of luxury taken from him but he deems to clear the debt and his father's name. Twelve years later after Erasmus has made a fortune for himself through his hard work and endeavors, word comes to him that his father's ship has been spotted off the coast of Florida, marooned and rumors of a village exist where both black and white live together. He is determined to discover what became of the ship and her crew. He is bent on finding his cousin and holding him for treason. The story is coming to terms of what is really important in this life. To hold on to whatever is dear regardless of the consequence or to learn and grow from what is experienced.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written.
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