The Merging of History and Fiction in The Book of Negroes
Lawrence Hill speaks about, gives readings from, and describes the research involved in developing his bestselling novel, The Book of Negroes.
The novel explores the life of an 18th-century woman named Aminata Diallo who is abducted from her childhood village and sold into slavery in South Carolina before eventually liberating herself, serving the British in New York City during the American Revolutionary War, settling in Nova Scotia, and eventually returning to Africa with 1,200 other Black Loyalists from Halifax.
Lawrence Hill is the author of three novels, including Any Known Blood and Some Great Thing. He is best known for The Book of Negroes, which became a # 1 bestseller in Canada, was published around the world and won many awards, including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.
Lawrence is the son of American immigrants—a black father and a white mother—who came to Canada the day after they married in 1953 in Washington, D.C. The story of how they met, left the United States and raised a family in Toronto is described in Hill’s memoir Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada.
He is currently completing a new novel and co-writing the film adaptation of The Book of Negroes. His most recent short story, “Meet You at the Door” appeared last year in The Walrus magazine and was nominated for a National Magazine Award.