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The Book Of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
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The Book Of Negroes (original 2007; edition 2007)

by Lawrence Hill

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,5711472,334 (4.33)369
Member:monnibo
Title:The Book Of Negroes
Authors:Lawrence Hill
Info:HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (2007), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:canada reads, writer's trust prize

Work details

Someone Knows My Name: A Novel by Lawrence Hill (2007)

  1. 20
    A Mercy by Toni Morrison (tangentialine)
  2. 64
    The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (Bcteagirl)
    Bcteagirl: The book has a similar familial tone and is also told from the point of view of young girls growing up in a difficult situation. I had been looking for a book with a similar writing style and was happy to find this one. If you liked The Book of Negroes I recommend The Poisonwood Bible and vice versa.… (more)
  3. 20
    A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (LDVoorberg)
  4. 10
    Epic Journeys of Freedom: Runaway Slaves of the American Revolution and Their Global Quest for Liberty by Cassandra Pybus (susanbooks)
    susanbooks: Pybus offers a brilliant nonfiction account of the events in Hill's novel, as well as extending the story to penal colonies in Australia.
  5. 10
    Slave: My True Story by Mende Nazer (_Lana_)
    _Lana_: If you enjoyed reading about slavery in a historical setting you might be interested in a true-tale of slavery’s modern form. Both books also have strong female protagonists.
  6. 10
    The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African by Olaudah Equiano (tangentialine)
  7. 00
    The Classic Slave Narratives by Henry Louis Jr Gates (Cecilturtle)
  8. 00
    The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (vancouverdeb)
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» See also 369 mentions

English (138)  Dutch (6)  Norwegian (1)  French (1)  English (146)
Showing 1-5 of 138 (next | show all)
Excellent historical fiction about an African girl kidnapped and sold into slavery in the British colonies, Charleston, SC, NYC, and then following the British Loyalists to Nova Scotia after 1776 and then Sierra Leone. great story telling and seamless writing - I thoroughly enjoyed this. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
This novel features an African girl named Aminata Diallo, who was abducted around 1756 at the age of 11 and force-marched with other captives from her village in West Africa to the coast of Sierra Leone, where she was shipped to the British colony of South Carolina. Aminata's father, a Muslim, had taught her to read and write some prayers in Arabic, and her mother, a midwife, had begun training her to "catch babies". With these skills to offer, Aminata lives a life which is often more that of a servant than a slave; she is rarely beaten or confined after arriving in America, many of her owners treat her with a measure of respect, and in some circles she is admired as a teacher and midwife. Nevertheless, her status is never that of a free woman and her soul is never at rest. She loses a mentor, a husband, her children, but never loses her dream of returning to the village of her childhood and the freedom she knew there. This is almost [Roots] in reverse---rather than a modern descendant of slaves seeking to learn his family's history we have a victim of the slave trade seeking to return herself to her original home. Upon arrival on the North American continent Aminata is puzzled to be referred to as an "African", as she knows only the names of a handful of villages and a river in her homeland; the concept of "Africa" means nothing to her, and the Atlantic Ocean is simply an enormous terrifying river beyond imagining, which she has managed to cross without dying as so many others died. Later, when she has an opportunity to look at maps of the "Dark Continent", she finds much of it is quite unknown to the mapmakers as well. Aside from a few coastal locations, there are no names on the maps, merely drawings of elephants, bare-breasted women, birds and apes. Although Aminata is not based on any historical figure, there are "real people" in the novel, including Moses Wilkinson, Samuel Fraunces, and the abolitionist brothers Thomas and John Clarkson. Other characters are more loosely connected to people who did exist. I enjoyed this story quite a lot; it is fortified with extensive historical research about a time and a group of people that I had not known about previously. The title of this novel outside the USA was originally [The Book of Negroes], because Aminata is employed for a time registering names and a few personal details of black people who had been loyal to the British crown during the American Revolution, and who were promised freedom and land in Nova Scotia. The actual historical document referred to as Book of Negroes is one of the very few sources of information on black Americans of that time period. Occasionally, when outside the story thinking about it, I felt that Aminata's life was a bit too strange for fiction...the kind of thing that only makes sense if it really happened. In order for her to serve as the narrator of her own story, she had to be personally involved in many different events in several locations, and be particularly well-informed for a slave. For the most part, the author did a fine job accommodating this need without stretching my credulity too heavily. One late development (her reunion with her daughter), however, struck me as utterly improbable and unrealistic, as though the author had felt the need to bring the story round to a relatively happy ending. ( )
1 vote laytonwoman3rd | Nov 3, 2016 |
From the moment I picked up The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill I knew that it was going to be a special book. The life story of Aminata Diallo, her abduction from her African village at age eleven to her association with Abolitionists in London in the closing days of her life, this is the story of a remarkable and strong women. Sold into slavery, she never gives up and continues to work towards her freedom and improving herself throughout her life. From her time on an indigo plantation to her emigration to Nova Scotia with the Loyalists she manages to survive by using her skills as a midwife and healer. Perhaps the most extraordinary time in her life was when she came full circle and returned to Africa with the “Back To Africa” Loyalists who founded the city of Freetown in the country of Sierre Leone in 1792.

First and foremost this is a story about slavery. This dark trade that is a blight on the history of the world is examined from geographical, historical and human angles. The author is convincing in detail but never lets his narrative skill be overcome by dry facts. The story of Aminata is wrenching and breathtaking and truly is a masterpiece of writing.

I found The Book of Negroes to be both powerful and inspiring. The author has created an unforgetable heroine and her story simply jumps off the page and into the readers’ heart. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Oct 28, 2016 |
Someone Knows My Name is the extraordinary story of Aminata Diallo who – as a child of eleven – was stolen from the African village of Bayo and enslaved. Aminata survived the horrors of the slave ship, rape by her first owner, Appleby, (p160), the theft of both her children and the constant danger of being re-enslaved once she had regained her freedom. The story begins and ends with her old age in London when she was helping William Wilberforce and the Abolitionists to end the slave trade. It is fiction, but – as is made clear in the afterword, it is based on the true story of The Book Of Negroes and is the product of thorough research. The novel won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 2008.

BEWARE: SPOILERS

The subject matter makes it compelling reading, but somehow it falters half way through when Aminata – known as Meena because her name is too hard to pronounce (really??) – has made her way to Nova Scotia in Canada, (then a British colony). There is a flatness about the writing, perhaps intentional, that mirrors her depression when she learns firstly that Chekura, her husband, was drowned at sea en route to freedom, and secondly that her daughter, May, has been stolen by the childless couple, the Witherspoons, and taken back to England. From this point on Aminata seems a little lost, even though she remains a woman determined to fight for her freedom.

I don’t think that Hill has depicted the overwhelming nature of grief very well.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2009/05/24/someone-knows-my-name-by-lawrence-hill/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Oct 5, 2016 |
4.5 ( )
  Amanda105 | Sep 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 138 (next | show all)
With mature themes (e.g., a rape scene on the ship, descriptive killings, and sexual situations), this book is suited for older teens. Hill clearly researched multiple and sources to provide an accurate acount of Aminata's heroic journey and brings to life crucial world history. Teens who enjoyed Sharon Draper's Copper Sun will appreciate this page-turning novel.
added by Christa_Josh | editSchool Library Journal, Gregory Lum (Mar 1, 2008)
 
An unforgettable epic, seen through the eyes of a sharply realized, indomitable heroine.
added by Christa_Josh | editBooklist, Sarah Johnson (Oct 15, 2007)
 
Unfortunately, [Hill's] didactic purpose gets the upper hand and overwhelms the story. Aminata is simply too noble to be believable, and other major characters are mainly symbolic. Nevertheless, Hill's fascinating source material makes this a good choice for book clubs and discussion groups.
added by Christa_Josh | editLibrary Journal, Edward St. John (Oct 1, 2007)
 
In depicting a woman who survives history's most trying conditions through force of intelligence and personality, Hill's book is a harrowing, breathtaking tour de force.
added by Christa_Josh | editPublishers Weekly (Sep 3, 2007)
 
Livet som slave: Velbalansert historisk fiksjon om slavehandelen og ondskapens banalitet
added by annek49 | editDagbladet, Cathrine Krøger (Jun 29, 2006)
 

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Lawrence Hillprimary authorall editionscalculated
Willems, IneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore choose life.

--Deuteronomy 30:19
So geographers, in Afric-maps,

With savage-pictures fill their gaps;
And o'er unhabitable downs
Place elephants for want of towns.
--Jonathan Swift
Dedication
For my daughter, and kindred spirit, Genevieve Aminata
First words
I seem to have trouble dying.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
The Book of Negroes (2007) was published as Someone Knows My Name in the U.S.A, Australia, and New Zealand.
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Publisher Comments:
Abducted from Africa as a child and enslaved in South Carolina, Aminata Diallo thinks only of freedom—and of the knowledge she needs to get home. Sold to an indigo trader who recognizes her intelligence, Aminata is torn from her husband and child and thrown into the chaos of the Revolutionary War. In Manhattan, Aminata helps pen the Book of Negroes, a list of blacks rewarded for service to the king with safe passage to Nova Scotia. There Aminata finds a life of hardship and stinging prejudice. When the British abolitionists come looking for "adventurers" to create a new colony in Sierra Leone, Aminata assists in moving 1,200 Nova Scotians to Africa and aiding the abolitionist cause by revealing the realities of slavery to the British public. This captivating story of one woman's remarkable experience spans six decades and three continents and brings to life a crucial chapter in world history.
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Dreaming of escaping her life of slavery in South Carolina and returning to her African home, slave Aminata Diallo is thrown into the chaos of the Revolutionary War, during which she helps create a list of black people who have been honored for their service to the king.… (more)

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