“Nat Turner” by Kyle Baker (2008)
Genre: Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction
Book Length: 208 pages (paperback edition)
The story of Nat Turner and his slave rebellion—which began on August 21, 1831, in Southampton County, Virginia—is known among school children and adults. To some he is a hero, a symbol of Black resistance and a precursor to the civil rights movement; to others he is monster—a murderer whose name is never uttered.
In Nat Turner, acclaimed author and illustrator Kyle Baker depicts the evils of slavery in this moving and historically accurate story of Nat Turner’s slave rebellion. Told nearly wordlessly, every image resonates with the reader as the brutal story unfolds.
This graphic novel collects all four issues of Kyle Baker’s critically acclaimed miniseries together for the first time in hardcover and paperback. (description from Amazon)
This is a another cool book I got to read for my Ethnic Literature. How awesome is my teacher for putting a graphic novel in the syllabus?! It’s pretty great! Anyways, I had heard of the story of Nat Turner before I read the book, but didn’t know too much about it detail. It’s one of those stories that gets mentioned in a history book and kinda gets glossed over. Maybe, because it’s so violent?
Being an avid fan of graphic novels, I really enjoyed the book. Baker’s art is pretty fantastic and the style is unique. Unlike most comic books, the novel relies on lots of pictures and very few words to tell the story to its audience. That being said, the contrast between abstract and detail used in the pictures gets you to focus on certain parts that Baker and the characters want you to pay attention to.
Nat Turner in the beginning is seen as a sort of hero and at the end is seen as a murder of many innocent people. He was such a brilliant person and the only way he felt he could fight back against the constraints of slavery was to revolt in a violent way. I think Baker did a good job of balancing these points equally and ultimately conveying the story through pictures. Keep in mind, this novel is historical fiction, it’s not 100% accurate.
Enjoyed this new take on Nat Turner’s story as a graphic novel rather than being told as a narrative as it has been done before. I think this not only a great read, but could also could be taught in high school classrooms. 5 out of 5 stars!