Critical Context

Reviewers of The Known World particularly noted its masterful intertwining of numerous narratives and its reflective, meditative perspective, which gathers into itself a number of different ways of looking at the world. Critics praised the novel for its convincing historical detail. They lauded as well its inventive and adventurous inclusion of stories suggestive of Magical Realism and stories that speak beyond their specific historical situation to issues still relevant to contemporary life. Virtually unanimously greeted by critics as a major modern novel, The Known World was a National Book Award finalist, won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 2004, and in 2005 was awarded the prestigious International IMPAC Literary Award.