The Known World is the story of a black in the American pre-Civil War south. He gains his freedom, then acquires slaves of his own. The book is about his relationship to his slaves, and his relationship to the rest of the community.
The book is difficult to read. It struck me as a collection of short stories glued together by a few common characters. The stories jump around in time, making it difficult to follow and the characters difficult to keep separate. There is no discernible plot in the book and each story is left to stand on its own. Edward’s sentences tend to run on, making the book difficult to read on another level.
I found the characters a bit flat. There were none that I felt any ties to.
Generally, the stories are fairly nonviolent, but a few break that trend, some can be difficult to read.
Some of the short stories are interesting and informative. The author works in historical information to tie the story to events we are familiar with.
In spite of its having won a Pulitzer, it isn’t one I can recommend. I didn’t even finish this book, although I have strong urges to finish it just for completeness. Some people seem to get a lot out of the book, but I did not.