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Johnson's Dictionary

Johnson's Dictionary

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In his best novel since A Harlot’s Progress, David Dabydeen returns to the 18th century, this time for a historical adventure through London and the sugar-cane colony of Demerara, British Guyana. Again Dabydeen takes inspiration from the art of Hogarth and its dens of iniquity: we meet slaves, lowly women on the make, lustful overseers and pious Jews. But it is in his master’s copy of Johnson’s Dictionary that the slave Francis finds the transformative power of words, and his own path to freedom and redemption.

“He shatters expectation.”
Hilary Mantel, The Independent

“Exhilarating... beguiling and provocative.”
The Times

“Dabydeen has an imaginative mastery of the period, and can render it a hundred ways.”
The Observer

David Dabydeen was born in Guyana in 1957. He is only the second West Indian writer, following VS Naipaul, to be named a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Turner: New and Selected Poems (Cape, 1994) was republished by Peepal Tree in 2002. His 1999 novel A Harlot’s Progress was shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. His other novels include Disappearance (Peepal Tree, 2005) and Molly and the Muslim Stick (2008). He co-edited the Oxford Companion to Black British History (2007), and his documentaries on Guyana have appeared on BBC TV and radio. David is now Professor at the Centre for Caribbean Studies, University of Warwick.