This is such an epic book. It revolves around a woman named Aminata who is kidnapped from her village in Africa as a young girl and sold into slavery. Her journey takes her across the waters to America, Canada, and the UK. CBC made a mini-series out of this novel in partnership with the BET network, and this past weekend, won nine awards at the Canadian Screen Awards, with lead actress Aunjanue Ellis wearing a protest dress displaying the message “President Obama Take It Down” in reference to the Confederate Flag flying in Washington.
In the States, this book was renamed Someone Knows My Name, because there was concern about using the word “negroes” in American bookstores. But because of the CBC/BET mini-series, the book got renamed yet again in the States, this time back to its original title The Book of Negroes.
But beyond all the controversy and accolades, this is a great read to sink right into and follow the harrowing life of Aminata. It’s also educational for those who didn’t know that The Book of Negroes was the name of a historical document “kept by British naval officers at the tail end of the American Revolutionary War. It documents the 3,000 blacks who had served the King in the war and were fleeing Manhattan for Canada in 1783. Unless you were in The Book of Negroes, you couldn’t escape to Canada.”
Author Lawrence Hill has numerous works under his belt, including Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada and his latest novel that I’m excited to read, The Illegal, which is out now in bookstores and libraries.