Earl Edwards Edits 12 Years A Slave to Include Interviews With Six Former Slaves, Original Illustrations from Solomon Northup’s 1853 Memoir

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In addition to the original novel by Solomon Northop, readers get to read six fascinating interviews that were conducted with African American Slaves.

One of the best books I"ve read this year. The author writes so well that at times you become Solomon & feel the pain, sorrow & jubilation throughout the story!

The new and acclaimed film 12 Years A Slave, directed by Steve McQueen and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael K. Williams, Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt, has brought to the big screen the story of Solomon Northup, a free man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841.

The film is based on Northup’s memoir, originally published in 1853. The newest edition of the best-selling book was edited by Earl Edwards to include six interviews with other African-American slaves, adding their poignant stories to bring to light the injustices suffered by slaves in the American South.

“After reading 12 Years A Slave a few years ago, I discovered there were many things I didn’t know about my ancestors and their past,” said Edwards, a native of Grenada who currently resides in New Jersey. A freelance writer and author famous for his Zombie Avengers children’s book series, Edwards committed himself to exhaustive research on the topic of slavery and the history of the people of Africa.

“Up until then, all I knew was what I had seen on TV or learned in the short time we spent on the topic of slavery in school. I wanted to know what it was really like,” he continued. “I was floored when I discovered these interviews with former slaves that were conducted from 1936 to 1938. I thought that adding these personal interviews would give readers a more comprehensive view of slavery in the United States.”

The result was the newest edition of 12 Years A Slave, which includes the six interviews, a foreword by Edwards, and the illustrations that were published with Northup’s original manuscript in 1853.

Twelve Years A Slave begins as Northup, a free man and professional musician living in upstate New York with his wife and two children, is drugged and awakens to find himself in chains. He is transported by ship to New Orleans, where he is sold as a slave. The book details the brutality he experienced during the 12 years he endeavored to win his freedom and return to his family.

The film opened this month to critical acclaim; critic David Denby recently described it in The New Yorker as "easily the greatest feature film ever made about American slavery."

“[My wife] found this book called 12 Years a Slave, and I read this book, and I was totally stunned, Director McQueen told NPR. “It was like a bolt coming out of the sky; at the same time I was pretty upset with myself that I didn't know this book. Slowly but surely I realized that most people, in fact all the people I knew, did not know this book. I live in Amsterdam where Anne Frank is a national hero. She's not just a national hero, she's a world hero, and for me this book read like Anne Frank's diary but written 97 years before — a firsthand account of slavery. I basically made it my passion to make this book into a film.

“It's one of those things where there's just a huge hole in the canon of cinema,” McQueen continued. “It's such a big part of history, a huge part of American history that I thought, that's a story I want to tell."

“I’m happy that Solomon Northup’s story is finding a wider audience,” said Edwards, adding that while the heartrending story is often hard to read and harder to watch, it offers an accurate portrayal of what African-American slaves were forced to endure.

Edward’s edition of Solomon Northup’s 12 Years A Slave is available at http://www.amazon.com/Twelve-Years-Slave-interviews-illustrations-ebook/dp/B00COQLZWA/ everywhere.

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Earl Edwards

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