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The year is 1830, and Rutherford Calhoun, a roguish, newly freed slave, ships out of New Orleans as a stowaway to escape an undesirable marriage. To his shock and horror, he discovers that this vessel is a slave clipper bound for Africa. One of the most daring and compassionate works of fiction in recent years.
In this savage parable of the African American experience, Rutherford Calhoun, a newly freed slave eking out a living in New Orleans in 1830, hops aboard a square rigger to evade the prim Boston schoolteacher who wants to marry him. But the Republic turns out to be a slave clipper bound for Africa. Calhoun, whose master educated him as a humanist, becomes the captain's cabin boy, and though he hates himself for acting as a lackey, he's able to help the African slaves recently taken aboard to stage a revolt before the rowdy, drunken crew can spring a mutiny. <i>Middle Passage</i> won the 1990 National Book Award.