The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation Volume I: The Pox Party

The Pox Party * Written by M.T. Anderson

In the Novanglian College of Lucidity in Boston, the young boy Octavian is raised as the noble son of an African princess.  He is waited upon and receives an education in science, history and philosophy, has become proficient in Latin and Greek, as well as a virtuoso of the violin.  And yet, his every action and bodily function is observed and recorded, and his mother, though a personage of royalty, is sometimes constrained from her own will by the men of the college.  In actuality, Octavian is a slave and the subject of a scientific experiment.  The philosophers of the college wish to ascertain whether, given the same opportunities, an African has the same capacities as a European.  When the college’s longstanding patronage falls through and the slave-owning funders of the college make it clear that they want the “experimental” education of the boy to fail, Octavian becomes personally aware of and subjected to the true horrors and rigors of slavery in the American colonies.  In the midst of the turmoil of the Revolutionary War, Octavian makes his escape, but has nowhere to turn in a land where people are crying out for liberty, and yet would hold him captive.  Written as a first-person manuscript that incredibly recreates the diction and writing style of the late 18th century, as well as incorporating actual letters and documents from historical figures of the period, this is a fascinating, harrowing book with a hint of hope, as the story of Octavian continues in a companion volume, Kingdom on the Waves.

Candlewick Press
351 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7636-2402-6 (hardcover) / 978-0-7636-3679-1 (paperback)
Release Date: September 2006

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