cover image Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts

Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts

Rebecca Hall and Hugo Martínez. Simon & Schuster, $26 (208p) ISBN 978-1-982115-18-0

Hall’s nuanced and affecting debut graphic narrative uncovers history that has either been assumed non-existent or rendered violently so by its almost complete erasure from official record. Blending present-day memoir and historical reconstruction, the story follows Hall as she strives to write her dissertation on women-led slave revolts, only to discover a handful of examples and obstructions from institutions seemingly invested in keeping these stories buried (such as being barred from accessing an insurance company’s slave ship records). Hall must imagine how these enslaved women rose against their dire straits, filling in scenes such as one where a woman may have burned her enslaver’s house down following the death of her friend, then attempted a mass escape. Hall’s singular look at these women, along with her own experiences and resilience, highlight how entwined the past and present really are. Martínez’s resonant black-and-white art cleverly integrates historical scenes into the present-day narrative. Plus, his roomy panels and full pages leave space to breathe, and to reflect. Readers will be left with plenty to think about. Agent: Anjali Singh, Ayesha Pande Literary. (June)