The Book of Negroes

The Book of Negroes

Book - 2007
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Abducted as an 11-year-old child from her village in West Africa and forced to walk for months to the sea in a coffle--a string of slaves-- Aminata Diallo is sent to live as a slave in South Carolina. But years later, she forges her way to freedom, serving the British in the Revolutionary War and registering her name in the historic "Book of Negroes." This book, an actual document, provides a short but immensely revealing record of freed Loyalist slaves who requested permission to leave the US for resettlement in Nova Scotia, only to find that the haven they sought was steeped in an oppression all of its own.

Aminata's eventual return to Sierra Leone--passing ships carrying thousands of slaves bound for America--is an engrossing account of an obscure but important chapter in history that saw 1,200 former slaves embark on a harrowing back-to-Africa odyssey. Lawrence Hill is a master at transforming the neglected corners of history into brilliant imaginings, as engaging and revealing as only the best historical fiction can be. A sweeping story that transports the reader from a tribal African village to a plantation in the southern United States, from the teeming Halifax docks to the manor houses of London, The Book of Negroes introduces one of the strongest female characters in recent Canadian fiction, one who cuts a swath through a world hostile to her colour and her sex.

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins, c2007
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781554681563
1554681561
Branch Call Number: HIL
Characteristics: 486 p. ;,24 cm

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f
firebird770
Jun 15, 2017

Excellent book covering the slave trade; very moving read.

t
The_Thorne
Apr 01, 2017

Read this book!

a
Ash898
Feb 20, 2017

The book was really good but I found I just couldn't connect with the main character, she didn't feel real to me. It felt as though the author wanted her to be part of all these main events of history and rushed her story through it, as one of the previous reviews said - it was as though she was floating through these things and they were't really happening to her. I wasn't aware of Birchtown or Freetown previous to this and I really found those parts fascinating.

r
re_discover
Jul 21, 2016

I read Lawrence Hill's "The Book of Negroes" for the 2016 Ottawa Public Library Reading Challenge, under the category of a Canada Reads selection. The book was the winner of Canada Reads in 2009. I also watched the CBC's production of The Book of Negroes a couple of years ago. I highly recommend both the book and the TV series. Hill's writing style and method of storytelling are phenomenal.

d
Dub
Apr 20, 2016

As excellent a book as you will ever read...highly recommended.

g
grouchykitty
Feb 14, 2016

I didn't really like this book. Aminata didn't seem like a real person and her character had a really masculine feel. Her character felt like a man trying to write as a woman. It touches on some really interesting aspects of Canadian history though, and is still worth a read.

j
jr3083
Jun 07, 2015

Based on the real life 'Book of Negroes' this is the imagined story of a young African muslim villager, kidnapped and shipped to the indigo plantations of South Carolina as a slave, who is evacuated to Nova Scotia after the American War of Independence and later shifts to Sierra Leone. It's a fictional telling of the extraordinary story told in Simon Schama's 'Rough Crossings'.

c
corkiee
Mar 31, 2015

Loved this book

k
Karen9
Mar 30, 2015

A historical story and interesting. Kind of long, and more captivating for those interested in history. It was decent but not my area of specialty.

m
Memawrayne
Mar 28, 2015

Excellent book. A wonderful story that shows the human spirit at its best, even when it's in the most horrible circumstances. Everyone should read this. Not just those with African-American heritage.

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Age Suitability

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violet_kangaroo_106 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

p
purplecow03
Mar 19, 2014

purplecow03 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

c
chris319
Jan 10, 2011

chris319 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

m
mbazal
Aug 16, 2010

mbazal thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

j
JPearce
Apr 28, 2010

JPearce thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

t
Tired_Mama
Oct 24, 2008

Tired_Mama thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Quotes

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r
re_discover
Jul 06, 2016

Aminata Diallo: "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" (Hill 7).

r
re_discover
Jul 06, 2016

Aminata Diallo: "Some say that I was once uncommonly beautiful, but I wouldn't wish beauty on any woman who has not her own freedom, and chooses not the hands that claim her" (Hill 4).

r
re_discover
Jul 06, 2016

Aminata Diallo: " I have wondrously beautiful hands. I like to put them on things. I like to feel the bark on trees, the hair on children's heads, and before my time is up, I would like to place those hands on a good man's body, if the occasion arises" (Hill 6).

Jerath Aug 30, 2013

"When it comes to understanding others, we rarely tax our imaginations." -Aminata Diallo

m
mbazal
Aug 16, 2010

"I have escaped violent endings even as they have surrounded me. But I never had the privilege of holding onto my children living with him, raising them the way my own parents raised me for ten or eleven years until all of our lives were torn asunder." - Aminata Diallo

Notices

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m
mbazal
Aug 16, 2010

Sexual Content: This title contains Sexual Content.

m
mbazal
Aug 16, 2010

Violence: This title contains Violence.

Summary

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m
mbazal
Aug 16, 2010

Lawrence Hill's fictional biography, The Book of Negroes, grabs the reader from the first sentence. Aminata Diallo lives in the village of Bayo in West Africa and, because her mother and father come from different groups, speaks both their languages. In 1745, at eleven years old, Aminata is stolen from her village by slavers and marched three months westward to the Atlantic Ocean. Once there, she is placed on a slave ship and transported to South Carolina where she is sold to an indigo producer.

The girl endures hellish conditions both in the slave ship and on the indigo plantation, but is finally sold to a family her takes her to the infant city of New York. Aminata never loses her determination to escape captivity and to return to her village, but her life leads her into paths that she cannot predict.

Hill not only tells a fascinating story, he also presents a very readable history of the conditions and economic levers driving slavery. The book takesthe reader across continents, oceans, and countries, as well as through the factors that forced Britain to outlaw slavery at home and in its colonies.

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