Sunday, March 27, 2011

Book Review: The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

Synopsis (from

Abducted as an 11-year-old child from her village in West Africa and forced to walk for months to the sea in a coffle - a string of slaves - Aminata Diallo is sent to live as a slave in South Carolina. But years later, she forges her way to freedom, serving the British in the Revolutionary War and registering her name in the historic "Book of Negroes". This book, an actual document, provides a short but immensely revealing record of freed Loyalist slaves who requested permission to leave the US for resettlement in Nova Scotia, only to find that the haven they sought was steeped in an oppression all of its own. Aminata's eventual return to Sierra Leone - passing ships carrying thousands of slaves bound for America - is an engrossing account of an obscure but important chapter in history that saw 1,200 former slaves embark on a harrowing back-to-Africa odyssey.

Avid Reader's Review

5 Stars

A beautifully written novel, Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes follows the life of Aminato Diallo, who was captured by slavers as a young girl and forced from her home and family.   The novel takes the reader on an unforgettable journey from a small African village to: the slave coast of Africa; the perils of life aboard a slave ship crossing the Atlantic; an indigo plantation in South Carolina; the streets of 18th century New York City; life in frontier Nova Scotia; back to Africa and the colony of Sierra Leone; and, finally, to England.

Hill has created a most memorable heroine in Aminato Diallo, and his prose evokes a very strong sense of time and place.   This is a novel that reminds me of why I love the historical fiction genre so much, and one I won't soon forget.  Highly recommended!