Since it is African Heritage Month here in Nova Scotia it seems fitting that my first recommended read is an outstanding novel by Canadian author Lawrence Hill called The Book of Negroes published in Canada by Harper Collins. In the US, Australia, and New Zealand it is published under the title Someone Knows My Name.
I was unable to put this book down when I first read it three years ago and I agree completely with the Globe and Mail’s statement that it is “a masterpiece.” The book follows the life of an African woman who was abducted from her home village in Africa, sold into a world of slavery, and the various circumstances forced upon her as she tries to find her way back home.
Why did I like it?
- Lawrence Hill has, without question, created one of the most memorable characters of all time, Aminata Diallo. I don’t think anyone who has read this book will ever forget her.
- Although the book is a work of fiction, it is rich in history. A part of the book is set in my home province of Nova Scotia and it introduced me to a part of history that, sadly, I wasn’t aware of.
- It made me cry. The book is a reminder not only of the violation and brutality endured by so many, but also of the strength of those who endured it. I cried for both reasons and think I’m a better person just having read it.
It’s probably worth noting that when I found out Lawrence Hill was speaking in Halifax (an hour from where I live) earlier this month I was over the moon with excitement. I was so excited about the possibility of meeting the man who created this amazing book and outstanding female character who still haunts me from time to time. Sadly, however, because of a work commitment I was unable to attend. Sometimes having a ‘real’ job REALLY sucks!