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.”
A sweeping story that transports the reader from a tribal African village to a plantation in the southern United States, from the teeming Halifax docks to the manor houses of London, The Book of Negroes introduces one of the strongest female characters in recent Canadian fiction, one who cuts a swath through a world hostile to her colour and her sex.
Published around the world, under various titles (The Book of Negroes, Someone Knows My Name and Aminata), the novel won the overall Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Ontario Library Association’s Evergreen Award, CBC Radio’s Canada Reads and Radio Canada’s Le combat des livres. An illustrated edition of the novel, with paintings and historical documents, is available from HarperCollins Canada. Lawrence Hill has co-written (along with director Clement Virgo) a six-part television miniseries based on The Book of Negroes, which will appear in early 2015 on CBC TV in Canada and on BET in the USA.