The Known World, by Edward P. Jones, tells the story of slavery in pre-Civil War Virginia from a slightly unusual perspective: that of slaves owned by free blacks. The writing is beautiful and the story is incredibly touching. I encountered a slight difficulty in reading it, though - through the middle 150 pages or so, the story dragged. This is through no fault of Mr. Jones - introductions had to be made an events had to occur that would render the last third of the novel possible and believable. However, there was a time that I wasn't sure that I could finish the book.
I did finish it, though, and I'm very glad that I did. The last hundred pages or so made the entire struggle worthwhile. I finished the book in a single sitting. It went quickly and I was very satisfied with the book as a whole. I've heard complaints that the book drags through the middle and then rushes through the story at the end, and I can certainly see where those complaints are coming from. I think the pace was very effective, since the events were happening for the characters so quickly that they couldn't get a handle on what or why they were happening and what the final results would be.
Overall, I highly recommend the novel and I'm eager to read more of Jones' work.