Middle Passage by Charles Johnson won the 1990 National Book Award. I was reluctant to read it because I thought it was going to be too depressing and preachy. It was depressing at times, but it was also, well . . . goofy. Very engrossing, even exciting, but a little haphazard. It has a ne’er-do-well hero, multiple plots, and exciting adventures -- a real sea yarn.
I could not get my brain around the notion that the narrator knew about and referred to things that didn’t happen until decades after the story takes place (he mentions things like time zones and squeegees that didn’t exist in 1830, for example, not to mention philosophical and scientific theories that didn’t develop until much later, such as evolution). But once I decided to let that all flow over me, I enjoyed the book. It certainly packs a lot into its 206 pages.
Living Life and Reading Books