The Book of Negroes

The Book of Negroes

Book - 2009
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Lawrence Hill's nationally bestselling novel has garnered praise and awards around the world. The Book of Negroes has won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and CBC Canada Reads, among many others. Lawrence Hill--and his remarkable character Aminata Diallo--have become household names throughout Canada.

Readers will follow the story of Aminata, an unforgettable heroine who cut a swath through an 18th-century world hostile to her colour and her sex. Abducted as an eleven-year-old child from her village in West Africa and put to work on an indigo plantation on the sea islands of South Carolina, Aminata survives by using midwifery skills learned at her mother's side, and by drawing on a strength of character inherited from both parents. Eventually, she has the chance to register her name in the "Book of Negroes," a historic British military ledger allowing 3,000 Black Loyalists passage on ships sailing from Manhattan to Nova Scotia.

This remarkable novel transports the reader from an African village to a plantation in the southern United States, from a soured refuge in Nova Scotia to the coast of Sierra Leone, in a back-to-Africa odyssey of 1,200 former slaves. Bringing vividly to life one of the strongest female characters in recent fiction, Lawrence Hill's remarkable novel has become a Canadian classic.

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins, c2009.
Edition: Illustrated ed.
ISBN: 9781554686957
Characteristics: xv, 509 p. :,ill. (chiefly col.), col. maps, ports. (some col.) ;,24 cm.


From the critics

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Mar 05, 2020

The book “The Book of Negros” by Lawernce Hill is based on a true story and tells the story of Aminata. Aminata is a young girl who is abducted at 11 and is a witness of the slave revolt. The book talks about the hardships she goes through. This book was easy to read and the plot was long but enjoyable. The dialogue never seems to get stale. The main character, Aminata, is a very powerful character that you get very immersed in. Although, containing some mature parts, I believe this book is great for teenagers. It is informative, has great immersion and introduces many new styles of plot. This book really captures the reader's attention with it’s emotional appeal. I had an emotional roller coaster reading this book. This book has a lot of commitment required. The plot is very clear, and extremely understandable. This book gets 4 out of 5 stars from me. It was a wonderful and powerful story that really allowed for an emotional response as a reader.
@TheRomanV of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

Nov 26, 2019

Fantastic saga!

I read this book as part of a book club. It tells the story of Aminata Diallo from the time she is taken from her village in Africa till the time of her death in London. In between she lives as a slave in South Carolina, an escaped slave in New York during the American Revolution, a Black Loyalist in Nova Scotia, a settler in Sierra Leone, and finally a speaker against slavery in London. It is a compelling journey of her life through history, and well-worth a read. (submitted by SC)

Dec 02, 2017

The book of Negros is a hit. In fact, I couldn't put it down from the start. This really annoyed my wife. I also watched the show from CBC which was so boring and mostly missing the key events that was mentioned in the book. I really recommend this book for everyone to read regardless of their race. the Main character , Amina Dilayo stunned me , she was an intelligent young women despite all of the turmoil she went through, she never lost faith in God.

Jun 15, 2017

Excellent book covering the slave trade; very moving read.

Apr 01, 2017

Read this book!

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.

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.

Apr 20, 2016

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

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.

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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).

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).

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

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


Add Notices
Aug 16, 2010

Sexual Content: This title contains Sexual Content.

Aug 16, 2010

Violence: This title contains Violence.


Add a Summary
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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