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10 thoughts on “The Book of Negroes

  1. Shannon (Giraffe Days) Shannon (Giraffe Days) says:

    International title Someone Knows My NameIt's 1802 and Aminata Diallo now an old woman sits down to write her life story at the reuest of the Abolitionists in London Abducted from her village in West Africa at the age of eleven and marched in a coffle a string of slaves for three months before reaching the coast Aminata survives the voyage to America and ends up sold to an indigo plantation owner in South Carolina She describes herself as lucky because compared to the tragic circumstances and end of so many other black slaves Aminata manages to survive using her wits her skills as a midwife her ability to pick up new skills uickly and her strength of character She witnesses many horrors and sorrows and experiences them as well that make her ponder the human nature and the hypocrisy of religions even her own Yet through it all she does not succumb to anger or hatred; she wants only to be together with her husband Chekura and their children who are all taken from herWhen Britain surrenders to the rebels they keep their promise to the Black Loyalists in a way With a certificate proving they have worked behind British lines for at least a year they can sign their name in the Book of Negroes and be given passage to a British colony Most are sent to Nova Scotia including Aminata She may have escaped the American slave owners but she hasn't escaped the prejudice fear and hatred with which the blacks face everywhere they go The opportunity to return to Africa the dream she's always had comes her way but if she ever wants to see her home village of Bayo again she'll have to make a deal with the devilThis book is going straight onto my favourites list The sweeping lifelong cross generational story arc reminded me of another favourite book of mine City of Dreams by Beverly Swerling which is about the early days of the Dutch in Nieuw Amsterdam before it became New York The Book of Negroes is a powerful story on many fronts it's a very human story sympathetic honest fair to the greys of history thought provoking poignant One of the beautiful things about this book is how as a reader you feel in tune with the Africans while the whites seem strange alien bewildering contradictory I don't mean that Hill paints an uneven picture far from it the rendering of history into something visceral tangible grants perspective and context It's not a simple matter of white man bad; black man victim That's what I mean by this book being honest honest about human nature about the complexities of history without making excuses for anyone of any colour I don't mean that there weren't characters who enrage you but that they are presented relatively free of the taint of presentismIf you're not familiar with the term presentism refers to our natural tendency to judge history through the lens of the present by our own modern standards rather than acknowledging and positioning things within a historical perspective Hill has done an admirable job of completely immersing us in the 18th century creating a protagonist who is a product of the time as much as one of circumstanceHill has managed to write a convincing wonderful female protagonist frankly not many male writers are this successful Aminata is unflinchingly honest with herself and others and by being so thoroughly in her head she gives us what the Africans needed most during slavery a voice the understanding that she's just like us not some black beast from darkest Africa heathen barbarian uncivilised As in some other books the irony comes through clearly which is the uncivilised race? Who is the barbarian? When Aminata arrives in London the first thing she sees are the legless beggars on the street the filth and crowds and pretensions She doesn't even need to say anythingAnother irony is the rebellion in the American colony Aminata is in New York when things get nasty and constantly hears the white Americans talking about being slaves to the British and fighting for their freedom Aminata doesn't need to point out anything here and I don't think I do eitherHer own people don't come off smelling of roses either The book is thoroughly researched and historically accurate and makes no bones about Africans enslaving each other well before the white people came and it is Africans who capture Aminata kill her parents torch her village and sell her to the white slavers Slavery has a long long history and no race it seems is exempt The Egyptians did it the Chinese the Japanese the Israelites were famously enslaved the Romans are guilty and what is feudalism if not a form of slavery which the English and French and others used for a very long time? If nothing else this book highlights the fact that no matter what colour you are or what your diet is we are all human and share this intangible thing called human nature Cruelty exists everywhere and cannot be simply attributed to your race though neither can it be excused This is why I insist that the history of black slavery while it existed predominantly between the British slaving companies and the Americas is everyone's history For a comprehensive story covering three different continents and exposing many of the situations black slaves runaways and freed slaves faced you can't go wrong with this oneIt's also beautifully written Aminata has a simple honest style without embellishment or fanciful detail She rarely passes judgement but offers her own thoughts and perspective subtly She is captured just before reaching puberty and so ironically escapes female circumcision which her people practised removing the clitoris and part of the labia and sewing up the vaginal entrance extraordinarily painful and meant to make a woman pure for her husband Aminata isn't keen but doesn't judge; I on the other hand believe it is the cruellest form of torture you can do to a woman and there's no excuse for it It's an old African tradition nothing to do with Islam and still occurs in some places like EthiopiaThere are moments of violence and cruelty because that was largely the life of the black slaves but while Aminata doesn't gloss over them neither does she dwell on them in such detail that you shy away from the book I was walking one day behind a yoked man who swerved without warning to the left I had no time to react and my foot sank into something wet and soft Something like a twig cracked under my heel I let out a scream Under my foot was the body of a naked decomposing man I jumped away and ripped leaves from the nearest branch In a frenzy I wiped a mass of wriggling white worms from my ankle I was shaking and wheezing Fanta took the leaves and wiped my foot and held me and told me not to be afraid But my hysteria escalated even though Fanta barked at me to calm down and I could not stop screaming p41For all that Aminata and other slaves go through she deserves the right to tell her whole story and not shy from the unpleasant details or have her account censored Remember her audience white genteel 19th century English men and women the Abolitionist committee the court of law the common people who can read the newspapers in which parts of her story are published It is the early 1800s Regency London the same time and place in which we love to read carefree romance novels that are free of the taint of black slavery and the English have no real idea or any sympathy for what the black slaves endured She argued to be the one to write her own story by herself and she refused to let the Abolitionists remove details that couldn't be proven Even though she is a fictional character in a fictional account she deserves to be heard by us as wellThere's one other thing I just have to mention the evolution of the African American dialect I've come to appreciate it because of this book I mean I always understood that it was their way of forming a new identity one that couldn't be taken away from them even now But as they learnt English as slaves what would happen if they spoke like their masters? Aminata learns this she learns the dialect that the slaves speak to each other and the grammatically stronger but far from perfect English they use with the white people They needed a way to speak to each other without the whites understanding yet they all came from different African tribes speaking one of thousands of African languages or they were born on plantations and don't know any African languages at all and so they devise their own way of speaking close to English but entirely of their own creation After Aminata escapes slavery she drops this dialect and speaks proper English but I get the sense it is due to her ability to learn languages uickly and well and her desire not to be looked down upon rather than a form of pretension It certainly makes her a bit of a curiosity with the white people The Book of Negroes is a masterpiece of historical literature capturing the contradictions of the human condition in graceful honest prose and gifting us with a new entirely sympathetic protagonist Please read this book It couldn't possibly fail to touch you and teach you

  2. Dem Dem says:

    Someone knows my name is a compelling and fascinating account of one woman’s remarkable experiences that spans six decades and three continents as a slave from childhood through to her death I loved this book when I first read it in 2011 and really enjoyed re reading listening to this one as a buddy read with a friend A book that grabs your attention from page one The history of the Slave Trade in America is heartbreaking and real and this is one of those books that is chilling and unputdownable because it brings history to life for the reader and that is how historical fiction works so well for me The author paints a realistic but terrifying picture of a time and practice that that will have your emotions all over the place as you read of the horrendous atrocities of slavery in our world’s history The story focuses on Aninata Diablo who was born in West Africa in 1745 Kidnapped as a child she is enslaved in South Carolina but escapes during the chaos of the Revolutionary War This book’s strength lies in its wonderful protagonist Aminata a frail old lady who recounts her story and her courage and strength in the face of all evil is truly inspiring and page turning You will find yourself rooting for this character from the very first page A meticulously researched novel that is rich in history and a book that is educational entertaining and really good storyI listened to his one on audio and really enjoyed the narration and can highly recommend this as a hard copy read and an audible choice

  3. Elyse Walters Elyse Walters says:

    UPDATE 199 Kindle special today It's soooooooo GOOD Lisi my best friend since Jr High School Thank you for last week end NOTE If you have received your mail I have started this book which you told me I MUST MUST read I started it this morning WOWI'm hooked already WONDERFUL just as you said Thanks Ilyce luv ya'Hi to Ken' WOW I could not stop thinking about this story even when I wasn't reading it I'll be thinking about this book for a long timeThe Book of Negroes is a real historical document which lists names of slaves who chose to leave the United States to go to Canada had to be frighteningThis book is packed filled with history and struggles for survival Slave trades? my God what a journey you're taken on by excellent writing of the author Lawrence HillThe storytelling is TOP UALITY absorbing page after page Amazing characters indomitable heroine times places human suffering and eventual freedomIts a long thick fat paper back book but I enjoyed reading EVERY WORD I 'couldn't skip over anything Very impressive epic novel Cheers to Lawrence Hill

  4. Rowena Rowena says:

    This is definitely the best book I read in 2011 and one I will remember for a long time Aminata Diallo is such a powerful character a woman who had to deal with so much in her life but came out with a small victory in the end Slavery is something we all know about but it's very rare we really think about what the slaves went through and how they were forced to adopt to a new culture and life separated from their family and homelandLawrence Hill did exceptional work on this book

  5. Giselle Giselle says:

    Abducted by slave traders as a young child Aminata is a survivor She is taken so far from home that her ultimate vow is to get back This is her powerful story that will make you laugh tear and jump for joy all at the same time Powerful Moving Memorable The Book of Negroes will stay with you long after you have read itI couldn't put this one down I know it seems like such a daunting read and the font is tiny but trust me you'll fly through this There are times it's heart breaking so I had to pause and not read it for a day but I couldn't wait to get back to it The characters are so vivid and so real The amount of research that was put into motion is clearly evident when you're reading her harrowing journey You can't help but feel like you went on this journey with her The story is one of survival and also one where our main character can't call anywhere else home Aminata is one character to admire that's a fact I'd give this a billion stars if I could Such an excellent book I cried tears of sadness and joy all at the same time Now I can finish watching the rest of the TV show adaptation The writing is excellent and the story and the characters and just everything about it screams classic RATING 55UOTESI prayed that this was a dream but the dream would not relent 33That I decided was what it meant to be a slave your past didn't matter; in the present you were invisible and you had no claim on the future 215I knew that it would be called United States But I refused to speak that name There was nothing united about a nation that said all men were created eual but that kept my people in chains 349It's about than land It's about freedom Negroes want to make our own lives 411I had learned that there were times when fighting was impossible when the best thing to do was to wait and to learn 424They did not attempt to enslave us but nor did they set us free 433Sometimes a deal with the devil is better than no deal at all 461Who was to blame for all this evil and who had started it? 473

  6. Bill Bill says:

    My expectations were set really high for this one It sat proudly at the top of my to read pile with an imposing 440 average across close to 1400 ratingsNow I'm not one of those dinks who look to read popular novels see Da Vinci Code pinheads just so they can turn their haughty noses up on them and knock down averages but I'm afraid my rating will knock this average down just a notch Not because I'm a pinhead but becauseThe Book of Negroes lacks what I need in a novelTime and again when I read these types of novels I can't help but hold them up to the bars that were raised by Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance or Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns Particularly A Fine Balance That novel tore my heart apart Mistry had developed those characters so well that with every turmoil or setback they came up against I hurt with them I rooted for themI damn near cried for themThe slave trade is one of the truly dark stains on our history All of those wasted lives and families torn apart forever How could this story of a girl sold into slavery and sent halfway around the world be anything but tragic?While I felt for everything she had gone through and felt for her losses the betrayals I didn't feel a whole lot for herThe Book of Negroes reads like an autobiography but this is a novel I need novels to be rich in character development to engage me enough to care not only what is going on with them but to care about them as if I know them There are rare exceptions to my rule Brian Lumley's Necroscope series for one and hey if you're the type of person who will read everything from Book of Negroes to Necroscope well you are a kindred spirit to yours truly Anyways but by and large strong characters are IT for me and I found Hill to be somewhat lacking in this skill There are some authors out there Stephen King is one John Irving is anotherwho can paint a vivid picture of a character with the subtlest of details or uirks in the space of one paragraph that will stick with you through the entire story I found through this story Aminata relays these terrible things that are happening to her and I felt like nothing than a bystander albeit feeling sadness that these types of things really happened much in the way I felt it when I learned about this in history class I also found his prose to be just a little too simpleAnyways I'm rambling here and or less repeating myself Bottom line I liked the story I had hit a point with about 100 pages to go where I was anxious to move on to something else but I stuck with it and I'm glad I didHill did touch me emotionally with the last few pages so don't think that I didn't feel anything at all for Aminata I just didn't feel it a whole lot through most of the story There I go repeating myself againOkay Good story Thinly developed characters Recommended for those interested in this point in history And there were parts to the story where the plight of her people really hit me Oh yeah and I loved reading about what New York City was like in the late 1700s Follow Broadway to the woods That's rich

  7. Adira Adira says:

    EVERYBODY PLEASE READ THIS BOOK NOWI felt a whole range of emotions when reading this book I can't even form a complete review to give Hill's novel justice However I will say that this is the type of book that demands to be read and importantly to reach a vast readership It demands that you sit down and put your WHOLE heart into reading this novel I say this because this story doesn't fully release the reader until they have hit the very last page and felt every emotion one could ever think to feel and even then Hill's writing grips you and won't let you rest In short this book reuires a lot out of its readersCase in point when I read this book it begged me as a reader to do so in small increments because I felt as if I was making the same painful journey into slavery that Aminata Diallo was thrust into at the mere age of eleven years old Out of frustration and anger I turned to Where'd You Go Bernadette to cleanse my pallet before I could continue on The book is by no means a simple or uick read Rushing through this book would be a HUGE mistake for any reader I beseech everyone who reads this review to READ this book AND to spread the word Hill's novel deserves to be the next phenomenon

  8. Em Lost In Books Em Lost In Books says:

    Blame is on me I expected a lot from this story but it didn't meet them so I am a wee bit disappointed

  9. Marisa Marisa says:

    My family is anti conditions of blacks in the American south type of literature I was taught to avoid being one of those black people who obsess over slavery and focus on our future Being born in Canada and growing up in an East AfricanWest Indian family there was a belief that the American slave experience was somehow not our experience With that said the only reason I read this book is because the author is from Canada Shallow but true The story is told in retrospect through the eyes of the main character Aminata Her character is complex She is a strong woman yet she worries about her appearance and acceptance at times she uestions herself she feels tenderness for her loved ones she feels fear and sadness To her benefit and at times to her detriment she is assertive throughout her journey Despite loss violation and overt and covert attempts to put her in her place she remains dignified I loved the way all of the characters were portrayed White doesn't necessarily mean badenemy Black doesn't necessarily mean goodfriend And then there are the people in between Jewish Mulatto trying to find a balance between being an insider and outsiderThe novel covers about a 50ish year period It explains some of the historical connections between the roles of Africa USA Canada Europe with a touch of the West Indies in the slave trade But it also addresses some issues that persist to this day defining cultural and religious identity relations between minority groups Because the book was so expansive there are points in the story towards the end that seem rushed in terms of characterplot development However this works on some level because the circumstances in the plot suggest that Aminata herself may have been rushed towards the end of writing her storybut I could also be making excuses for the author because I like the book This is actually the first book I have read about the slave trade but it will definitely not be my last

  10. Dorie - Cats&Books :) Dorie - Cats&Books :) says:

    I loved this book from the beginning Read it for book club and so glad I did The novel tells the story of a young girl stolen from her village in Africa to be sold into slavery As an old woman she is recounting the story of her life This is where our story beginsAminata is sold to several masters and then finally gains her freedom She is part of a large exodus from the US by the British who had promised them freedom if they fought for the British or helped them in any way during the revolutionary war They are taken to Nova Scotia only to once again encounter prejudice and no jobs land or opportunity to form a good lifeEventually they are offered a trip back to Africa to found a new colony She takes this opportunity and tries to find her home village She goes through many trials and hardships but always hangs on to her true self she is finally rewarded with passage to London and an opportunity to tell her storyI would highly recommend this book it is very well written with descriptions of Aminata that made me feel as though I knew her All time favorite novel with great heart and a revelation about the British and slavery that I had never known existed

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The Book of Negroes ❰Reading❯ ➶ The Book of Negroes Author Lawrence Hill – Based on a true story The Book of Negroes tells the story of Aminata a young girl abducted from her village in Mali aged 11 in 1755 and who after a deathly journey on a slave ship where she witnesses Based on a true story The Book of Negroes tells the story of Aminata a young girl abducted from her village in Mali aged in and who after a deathly journey on a slave ship where she witnesses the brutal repression of a slave revolt is sold to a plantation owner in South Carolina who rapes her She is brought to New York where she escapes her owner and finds herself helping the British by recording all the freed slaves on the British side in the Revolutionary War in The Book Kindle - The Book of Negroes a real historical document that can be found today at the National Archives at KewAminata is sent to Nova Scotia to start a new life but finds hostility oppression and tragedy Separated from her one true love and suffering the unimaginable loss of both her children who are taken away from her she eventually joins a group of freed slaves on a harrowing odyssey back to Africa and ends up in London as a living icon for Wilberforce and the other Abolitionists The Book of Negroes is a pageturning narrative that manages to use Aminata's heart rending personal story to bring to life a harrowing chapter in our history.

  • Paperback
  • 512 pages
  • The Book of Negroes
  • Lawrence Hill
  • English
  • 04 July 2016
  • 9780393351392

About the Author: Lawrence Hill

Hill is the author of ten books of fiction and non fiction In he won his first literary honour a National Magazine Award for the article “Is Africa’s Pain Black America’s Burden” published in The Walrus His first two novels were Some Great Thing and Any Known Blood and his first non fiction work to attract national attention was the memoir Black Berry Sweet Juice On Being Black and Wh.