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Feeding the Ghosts

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  226 ratings  ·  24 reviews
The Sea is slavery", begins Fred D'Aguiar's deeply moving novel that starts aboard the Zong, a slave ship returning from Africa. Faced with a disease that threatens to infect the entire ship, Captain Cunningham orders his crew to seize the sick men, women, and children and throw them overboard. One hundred and thirty-two slaves are tossed into the sea, their bodies registe ...more
Hardcover, 230 pages
Published January 1st 1999 by Ecco Press (first published August 28th 1997)
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3.70  · 
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 ·  226 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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Allie Riley
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Just wow. What an extraordinary novel. Structurally, it consists of a detailing of the voyage and the massacre in part one, an account of the court case in part two (not for mass murder, but a dispute over the insurance claim) and finally, in part three, the amazing Mintah's narrative outlining her point of view of what happened on the Zong and what became of her afterwards. She is a wonderful, wonderful character who is, sadly (I believe), entirely fictional. I would have loved a whole nov ...more
Nov 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
Throughout Fred D’Aguiar’s factually-based novel one character is described and portrayed in full detail and complexity: Mintah. D’Aquiar’s novel chronicles the events aboard the slave ship Zong, where—under orders by Captain Cunningham—the crew throws 132 slaves overboard. In theory, Captain Cunningham issues the orders to “save” the rest of the crew and slaves from disease. In reality, the captain decided they will save on rations by reducing their “stock” and that the slaves, weakened by dise ...more
May 22, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Translating the atrocity of the Zong into the genre of the novel, D'Aguiar does what fellow writers David Dabydeen and M. Nourbese Philip do not: he breathes vivacity into the dead and narrates the event not as if it were an inaccessible object lost in "The sea is history," as the novel's epigraph from Derek Walcott cites, but rather as if it lingers almost accessibly in the archive of language. While his story should be read as a tale of possibilities and certainly not one of certainties, there ...more
Daniel Clausen
Aug 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm at the library right now. I'm considering whether to give this book away. My brain tells me one thing--that I need to get lighter. That I need to slowly start shedding the bounds of material possessions and become lighter if I'm going to survive as a traveler in the coming years. My heart tells me another thing. It tells me that this book has the ability to heal. In this way, my plight is not so dissimilar than the plight of the captain of the Zong.

I would love to leave this book someplace
Sue Lyle
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This genre of telling real historical events through the novel is one of my absolute favourite ways to learn about the past and this book tells the historically true story of the slave ship the Zong and the decision by the captain to toss 132 sick slaves into the sea to drown because they would fetch more money from the insurance pay out for dead slaves than at the auction block. One slave, Mintah survives being thrown into the sea, she wasn't sick but had been captured from a Christian mission ...more
Jun 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A tragic, beautifully written story.
Mar 02, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it. I really liked it. The star I took from it was because it was a bit too repetitive towards the end for it's own good. Really, it was a hard book to read, but totally worth it.
Jessica Janeth
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nicole Gervasio
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Devastating. There were times when the imagery was so gruesome that I had to put it down. Nevertheless, I was really moved by the historiographic/fictionalized account it gives of the Zong disaster (in which 134 slaves were drowned, supposedly for being deathly sick and contagious, at sea, while en route from Africa to America). Mintah is such a bad-ass (for most of the novel), and the book emphasizes that heroism and hope really do persist, even when survival is tested to its absolute limits.

Apr 18, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1997
Low 3. The emotive and inspirational storyline centred on the horrors of the transatlantic trade held so much promise for this novel to attain greater prominence. The author's lyrical prose does, for the most part, do the material justice, but can overcomplicate. This aspect, together with the unnecessary intervention of a second narrator's philosophical interpretation of the events in the second half of the novel, loses the momentum and intensity which d'Aguiar had earlier achieved. The courage ...more
Sally Whitehead
An equally brutal and lyrical fictionalised depiction of the events which took place on the slave ship, Zong, in 1783 as the Captain took the inhumanely harsh decision to throw over 130 of his "stock" overboard in order to make more profit by claiming for his loss through his investor's insurers.

A emotionally challenging read which becomes ever more poetic in its portrayal of the sea, the land, the body and enforced captivity. At times the recounting of events becomes a little repetitive, but ul
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The language with which the prologue and first chapter was written was very strong. The imageries and plot was quite unsettling and really hits you emotionally. I had to take a break after these two sections to brace myself for the ones after. The ones after did not impact me the same way, some parts felt long as if I was de-sensitised from the brutality. I was lost in some parts. But I did enjoy the final chapters. A part of me hoped for more about the crew (especially Simon), it was sad to
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
D'aguiar's lyrical writing is both breath-taking and heart-breaking, and I really enjoyed the layered story-telling. The flow of the narrative was a little jarring because of the different parts, but overall, I really liked this book.
Sarah Sammis
Jan 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hard to forget.
Aug 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
a depiction of the murderous 1781 Zong voyage. the beginning was unbelievable, but the middle section bogged down a bit. Ultimately a harrowing read, but worth it.
Jun 19, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
More like 2.5.
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
High 3/ low 4. Definitely worth the
Jun 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing fictional account based on a true story - a slave woman who fought back against her captors while at sea....Haunting novel.
Edel-Marie Haukland
Tok pusten fra meg.
Jul 30, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: not many
I don't know; it was ok, but stupid at times. It's a story about a slave ship crossing the Atlantic.
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very important read, D'Aguiar captures the strife, emotions, and community forged between the enslaved Africans of the Zong.
Brendan Eaux-Ceallachán
There are times when this book touches greatness. Usually it descends quickly from there to a frustrating brand of overwritten navel-gazing.

That's a shame because when it's good, it's really bloody good.
Jan 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Starting from the prologue to the epilogue, a wide variety of different narrative features are observed throughout the novel, and all of these techniques are intended to give an accurate account of what has happened on the Zong as well as of what might have happened, sometimes by clinging to reality, other times trying to dramatize it.

In the prologue, we are told by whom we later assume to be a heterodiegetic narrator that “the sea is slavery” (3). The narrator, whom we do not see as a characte
Anas  Alhaisony
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Jun 01, 2017
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Jan 20, 2012
Angela Britto
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Dec 20, 2014
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Jun 24, 2012
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May 17, 2019
Sophie Graham
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Mar 25, 2017
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Poet, novelist and playwright Fred D'Aguiar was born in London in 1960 to Guyanese parents. He lived in Guyana until he was 12, returning to England in 1972.

He trained as a psychiatric nurse before reading African and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kent, Canterbury, graduating in 1985. His first collection of poetry, Mama Dot (1985), was published to much acclaim and established his reputa