By Lawrence Hill
Genre: Historical fiction
Winner of Canada Reads 2009, The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize
This is the book of conversation this month for the new CBC Book Club, it’s no wonder why this book was selected since it did win Canada Reads 2009. This was the book that I said would win the competition before it even began. I knew it would win because it entered the competition with lots of literary cred because it was already the winner of the Commonwealth Prize and it was up for Giller Prize.
Now, I will admit here that I didn’t want to enjoy the book because I like to see the underdog win and I also like to think that part of Canada Reads is to bring people to new novels. But once I started reading the novel I couldn’t help but like it. There are times that I really enjoy this genre but other times I just find it to be too cumbersome. This novel was a great read and I found myself constantly looking forward to what would happen to Aminata next.
The one downside of this particular novel was actually how good Aminata had it while a slave in America. It seemed like, for the most part, he owners were quite good to her. She was taught to read and became rather influential with her second owner. This part made me rather sceptical about the novel but this is a rather minor complaint given the first owner did demean her. I was surprised how well read she became over the course of her years in America. It seemed to me that her time in Nova Scotia was worse than her time in America which I found rather shocking. I had no idea this is what life was like for an African at that time in Canada and even more surprised they helped setup the first colony of free slaves in Africa.
If for nothing else this novel is full of history, with many new insights of the time. I didn’t know where the title came from and had no idea such a document existed. And the idea (I don’t know how factual this part is) that such a document would have been recorded by an African even more shocking.
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill is a wonderful novel that should not only be read by all Canadians but all people. The novel is full of history and it has the ability to entertain as well which is a great feat the author accomplished. Great novel and if you get the chance to read The Book of Negroes go for it.
Here are others that have reviewed the book, if you’d like to be included in this list feel free to send me an email with a link to your post:
kiss a cloud seem takes a wonderful look at this book.
Beattie’s Book Blog looks at the historical side of this novel.
I didn’t mention in my review that book can found by a different name outside of Canada. If you aren’t from Canada and want to read The Book of Negroes look for Someone Knows My Name.
Readers in the Mist give a great summary of the novel with some thoughts on the book.
Pickle Me This has a great review of this novel.