Barry Unsworth’s Sacred Hunger
A very good novel about slavery by way of *The Tempest*. The main plot concerns the legacy of the merchant William Kemp, who invests in a slave ship in an attempt to save his sagging fortunes. (His son, who chooses sugar, gets better results.)
But the key tension operates between the son, Erasmus Kemp, and the nephew Matthew Paris. Kemp wants the good mercantile life; Paris, fleeing from the death of his wife and child while he was imprisoned for publishing heretical (proto-Darwinian) tracts, wants something more radical.
From a Shakespearean point of view, they both want to be Ferdinand: the heir & chosen suitor. Kemp even plays Ferdinand in a failed production of *The Enchanted Island* opposite a wealthy merchant’s daughter early in the novel. But it’s Paris’s multi-racial world, on the slave ship, in Africa, and in Florida, that redefine Prospero’s magic isle.
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