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The Book Of Negroes Hardcover – Jan 18 2007


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Hardcover, Jan 18 2007
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 504 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd; 1 edition (Jan. 18 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0002255073
  • ISBN-13: 978-0002255073
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 4 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 721 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #475,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Stunning, wrenching and inspiring, the fourth novel by Canadian novelist Hill (Any Known Blood) spans the life of Aminata Diallo, born in Bayo, West Africa, in 1745. The novel opens in 1802, as Aminata is wooed in London to the cause of British abolitionists, and begins reflecting on her life. Kidnapped at the age of 11 by British slavers, Aminata survives the Middle Passage and is reunited in South Carolina with Chekura, a boy from a village near hers. Her story gets entwined with his, and with those of her owners: nasty indigo producer Robinson Appleby and, later, Jewish duty inspector Solomon Lindo. During her long life of struggle, she does what she can to free herself and others from slavery, including learning to read and teaching others to, and befriending anyone who can help her, black or white. Hill handles the pacing and tension masterfully, particularly during the beginnings of the American revolution, when the British promise to free Blacks who fight for the British: Aminata's related, eventful travels to Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone follow. 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. (Nov.)
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Review

"The Book of Negroes is a masterpiece, daring and impressive in its geographic, historical and human reach, convincing in its narrative art and detail, necessary for imagining the real beyond the traces left by history."
--THE GLOBE AND MAIL -- THE GLOBE AND MAIL

"Aminata is a heroic figure, a little larger than life, residing within and outside of history.You can never forget this character."
--TORONTO STAR --Toronto Star

"The Book of Negroes is a masterpiece, daring and impressive in its geographic, historical and human reach, convincing in its narrative art and detail, necessary for imagining the real beyond the traces left by history." --The Globe and Mail

"Aminata is a heroic figure, a little larger than life, residing within and outside of history.You can never forget this character." -- Toronto Star --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

121 of 125 people found the following review helpful By Palmetto on March 10 2007
Format: Hardcover
In all the fiction I've read pertaining to that bleak period of African slavery in the Americas, none has left me feeling as hope-filled as "The Book of Negroes" has. It is courageous enough a feat that our Black ancestors survived the indignities of slavery to bring us here today, but it is so very uplifting to read of a character who doesn't merely survive it, but makes it her life's work to change the condition for all slaves.

Although a work of fiction, "The Book of Negroes" reminds us of the dangerous labour of those exceptional real-life heroes - Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Frances Harper, and the countless others who worked tirelessly in the abolitionist movement - who believed that fighting for freedom was worth infinitely more than dying in silence.

What makes "The Book of Negroes" so engaging is the insight we have into Aminata Diallo's childhood in Africa before she is even captured. This sets the tone for the way she sees her condition as a slave - as merely something she must overcome so as to return to the land of her birth. And although she bravely endures the harsh rigors of being owned and debased, there is never a moment when the reader feels this woman will not prevail. Even not having been born into a family of storytellers, she recognizes very soon into her captivity that it is her duty to live, and to record the horror facing her people, knowing she will one day have to give an account.

Lawrence Hill has beautifully captured the voice of this precocious child growing into a wise old woman. We are led to smiles in the midst of indescribable despair as Aminata discovers her world through child-like eyes, and to chuckle with her at Buckingham Palace at the irony of King George III marrying an African queen.
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54 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Pretty Brown Girl on May 7 2007
Format: Hardcover
The actual Book of Negroes is an amazing historical document (a British military ledger) that contains the names and descriptions of 3,000 men, women, and children who served or were supported by the British during the American Revolutionary War. Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes is a brilliantly imagined novel based on the document of the same name and the events surrounding the relocation of thousands of Black Loyalists to various British colonies and eventually to Sierra Leone after the conflict. Similar in approach to The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Hill's offering spans the lifetime of the fictional Aminata (Meena) Diallo, an African born woman who escaped to freedom.

At the beginning of the novel Meena is in London, an old woman who has lived a tumultuous life. At the urging of her abolitionist sponsors, she is asked to pen her story which would be used as evidence depicting the cruelty and inhumanity of the slave trade. Meena, an intelligent, educated woman, authors her autobiography via vivid flashbacks through time. She writes, "Let me begin with a caveat to any and all who find these pages. Do not trust large bodies of water, and do not cross them. If you, dear reader, have an African hue and find yourself led toward water with vanishing shores, seize your freedom by any means necessary." She continues and details her life as a young child in an African village, her capture and Middle Passage crossing, enslavement while in America, relocation to Nova Scotia, return to Africa (Freetown, Sierra Leone), and partnering with abolitionists in England.

However to summarize the book in such a way is a huge understatement - it is steeped in historical facts that educate and enlighten the reader; I was pulled in immediately after reading the opening passages.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on Sept. 12 2007
Format: Hardcover
When the British were evicted from the Thirteen Colonies at the end of the War of Independence, part of their cargo manifest were the "Loyalists". Among those who remained loyal to the British Crown were a group with more practical needs. Former slaves, whose roots lay in Africa, decided their options were better with the British, who were debating the wisdom of the slave trade, than with the new "Americans" who continued to find profit in human commerce and slavery. The British accepted that responsibility, transporting 3000 "Negroes" from New York City to Nova Scotia, still a fledgling Atlantic Coast colony.

Lawrence Hill combines the lives of some of those transported former slaves into one woman, Aminata Diallo, who he gives the task of entering their names into the military's record: "The Book of Negroes". In this outstanding work of semi-fiction, he traces Aminata's life from her childhood in Mali through years of slavery in South Carolina to her final years in London. Her status, and her race, means that wherever she resides is considered her "home". Yet, as Aminata learns to her sorrow, "no place in the world was safe for an African" and that "survival depended on perpetual migration".

Aminata was an exceptional child. The daughter of a Muslim scholar and a midwife mother, she is taken by slave collectors at a young age. Once aboard the slave ship, her talents are recognised by the ship's doctor and she's given the task of assisting as a "nurse", particularly in "catching babies" as her mother taught her. However, she arrives in North America ill and weak. Considered worth little, she's taken to an indigo plantation. She's "rescued" by a Jewish indigo inspector who, along with his wife, furthers her writing and accounting skills.
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