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Someone Knows My Name (08 Edition)by Lawrence Hill
Synopses & ReviewsPlease note that used books may not include additional media (study guides, CDs, DVDs, solutions manuals, etc.) as described in the publisher comments.
Abducted from Africa as a child and enslaved in South Carolina, Aminata Diallo thinks only of freedom--and of the knowledge she needs to get home. Sold to an indigo trader who recognizes her intelligence, Aminata is torn from her husband and child and thrown into the chaos of the Revolutionary War. In Manhattan, Aminata helps pen the , a list of blacks rewarded for service to the king with safe passage to Nova Scotia. There Aminata finds a life of hardship and stinging prejudice. When the British abolitionists come looking for "adventurers" to create a new colony in Sierra Leone, Aminata assists in moving 1,200 Nova Scotians to Africa and aiding the abolitionist cause by revealing the realities of slavery to the British public. This captivating story of one woman's remarkable experience spans six decades and three continents and brings to life a crucial chapter in world history.
"Lawrence Hill's historical intelligence was already manifest in his 1997 novel, 'Any Known Blood,' in which he used racial and geographic borders to explore and transform a Canadian story. In his new novel, 'Someone Knows My Name,' Hill has extended his range and refined his craft to produce a compelling narrative that moves from mid-18th-century West Africa to South Carolina, Manhattan, Nova Scotia,... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) Sierra Leone and London. The heroine and narrator of this wonderful work is Aminata Diallo. Torn from her loving parents, a jeweler and a midwife in a Malian village, she is a mere 11 years old when she is chained along with other captives, taken to the coast and transported to the New World, where she is sold to a brutal plantation owner in South Carolina. In heart-stopping prose, Hill describes Aminata's shocks and bewilderment, skillfully interlacing the voices of older women, elderly male leaders and young boys. Like others who endured the Middle Passage, Aminata holds on to whatever vestiges of power she can, such as the right to name herself. She embodies her simple but prosperous homeland in which religion passes from one generation to the next in the form of the Koran, traditional marriage and cultural practices. Hill balances his graphic depictions of the horrors of enslavement with meticulously researched portrayals of plantation life. In South Carolina, Aminata learns about the production of indigo, becomes literate and numerate, and finds love. However, her brief spells of happiness are repeatedly suffocated by loss and mourning. Hill's fiction owes an obvious debt to the female North American slave narrative and to writers such as Mary Prince, whose polemical autobiography, 'The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave,' was published in London and Edinburgh in 1831. One scene echoes the outspoken words of the abolitionist crusader Sojourner Truth, who asked a women's suffrage convention in 1852, 'Aren't I a woman?' Hill describes Aminata addressing her second master, Lindo: 'The anger in my own voice surprised me. I jumped up from the table, knocking over an ink pot. ... "I am no wench. I am a wife. I am a mother. Aren't I a woman?"' Although whoever taught Aminata to read broke the law, her literacy becomes her saving grace. She accompanies Lindo on business to Manhattan and escapes into the chaos of the Revolutionary War. Hill brings to life an important historical document by having Aminata serve as the scribe who helps to write the Book of Negroes, a list of the Loyalist slaves rewarded for service to the king with safe passage to Nova Scotia. That turbulent exodus was tracked in James Walker's scholarly history, 'The Black Loyalists: The Search for a Promised Land in Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone, 1783-1870.' Following Walker, Hill shows that the refugees' suffering and losses in Nova Scotia constantly reminded them that they may have come 'up from slavery' but could not easily be rid of it. When the Sierra Leone Company — a philanthropic, business-oriented group of British abolitionists — come looking for 'adventurers' to settle in their new colony in West Africa, Aminata assists in moving more than a thousand Nova Scotians to Sierra Leone and aids the abolitionist cause by revealing the realities of slavery to the British public. Horrified to discover that the traffic in slaves continues with the compliance of African people, she challenges the wrongdoing at every turn. Earlier this year, Simi Bedford also wrestled with the fate of early Sierra Leoneans in her novel 'Not With Silver.' It is not surprising that at this time, when the bicentennial of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade is being commemorated and Sierra Leone has been so much in the news, that two comparable novels should draw on the same subject matter. Nor was I surprised, reading these chapters set in my ancestral home of Sierra Leone, to find myself wishing as Aminata does: 'This story ... will outlive me. Long after I have returned to the spirits of my ancestors, perhaps it will wait in the London Library. Sometimes I imagine the first reader to come upon my story. Could it be a girl? Perhaps a woman. A man. An Englishman. An African. One of these people will find my story and pass it along. And then, I believe, I will have lived for a reason.' Lawrence Hill's hugely impressive historical work is completely engrossing and deserves a wide, international readership." Reviewed by Delia Jarrett-Macauley, author of 'Moses, Citizen and Me,' which won the 2005 Orwell Prize for political writing, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"You feel you are turning the pages of history, the pages of truth."--Austin Clarke, author of
"Wonderfully written...as in the slave narratives that inspired it, language is power."'"Nancy Kline, New York Times Book Review
Kidnapped as a child from Africa, Aminata Diallo is enslaved in South Carolina but escapes during the chaos of the Revolutionary War. In Manhattan she becomes a scribe for the British, recording the names of blacks who have served the King and earned freedom in Nova Scotia. But the hardship and prejudice there prompt her to follow her heart back to Africa, then on to London, where she bears witness to the injustices of slavery and its toll on her life and a whole people. It is a story that no listener, and no reader, will ever forget. Reading group guide included.
About the Author
Lawrence Hill is the author of the novels Any Known Blood and Some Great Thing and of the nonfiction work The Deserter's Tale (with Joshua Key). He lives in Ontario, Canada.
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