The Known World


The Known World is a 2003 historical novel by Edward P. Jones. Set in Virginia during the antebellum era, it examines the issues regarding the ownership of black slaves by both white and black Americans.

The book was published to widespread acclaim from literary critics, with much praise directed at its story and Jones' prose. In particular, his ability to intertwine stories within stories received great praise from The New York Times.[1]

The narration of The Known World is from the perspective of an omniscient figure who doesn't voice judgment.[2] This allows the reader to experience the story without bias.[2]

Awards and nominations

The novel won a National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2004.[3][4] In 2005 it won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, one of the richest literary awards for a novel in the English language.[5] It was a finalist for the 2003 National Book Award.[6]

In 2009, website The Millions polled 48 critics, writers, and editors; the panel voted The Known World the second best novel since 2000.[7]

  1. ^ Vernon, John (2003-08-31). "People Who Owned People". NYtimes. Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  2. ^ a b Martin, Valerie (2004-07-30). "The Guardian". The Means of Evil. Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  3. ^ National Book Critics Circle Award past winners, Official Website.
  4. ^ 'The Known World' Wins Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, The New York Times.
  5. ^ "The Known World by Edward P. Jones wins the 2005 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award", Official Website.
  6. ^ "2003 National Book Awards". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "The Millions : Best of the Millennium, Pros Versus Readers". The Millions
Further reading
  • Ryan, Tim A. (2008). "Mapping the Unrepresentable: Slavery Fiction in the New Millennium". Calls and Responses: The American Novel of Slavery since Gone with the Wind. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. pp. 185–208. ISBN 978-0-8071-3322-4. 
External links


  • Edward P. Jones on 'The Known World', official HarperCollins interview.
  • Interview with the author, transcript from NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, PBS, September 19, 2003
  • 'The Known World', audio from National Public Radio, Morning Edition, October 28, 2003
  • The Known World on Open Library at the Internet Archive


  • 'The Known World', review in Pop Matters, by Stephen M. Deusner, 5 January 2004
  • 'The Known World' review in storySouth, 2005
  • 'The Known World', review in The Washington Post, by Jonathan Yardley, August 24, 2003
  • "People who owned people", review in The New York Times, by John Vernon, August 31, 2003
  • "A transcendent story of slavery unfolds in black and white", review in The Boston Globe, by John Freeman, October 19, 2003


  • Photos of the first edition of The Known World
  • Two-part essay on Jones' use of a godlike omniscient narrator in "The Known World": Part 1, Part 2.
Preceded by This Blinding Absence of Light International Dublin Literary Award recipient 2005 Succeeded by The Master

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