What is "The Book of Negroes" about?


Quick Answer

"The Book of Negroes" is a work of historical fiction by Canadian author Lawrence Hill that tells the life story of Aminata Diallo, an 11-year-old girl who is stolen from her African village in 1745 and forced into slavery in South Carolina. The novel traces her journey from America to Canada, back to Africa and finally to England.

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Full Answer

"The Book of Negroes" details Aminata Diallo's forced march to the coast in a shackled string of slaves and describes the harrowing conditions she endures on the slave ship. She ends up at an Indigo plantation where a fellow slave teaches her to read and write.

The title of the novel was inspired by a real British military document called the "Book of Negroes" that listed the 3,000 Black Loyalists who fled the American Revolutionary War. Aminata Diallo enters her name in the ledger and is granted passage from New York to Canada in 1783. Later she returns to Africa with 1,200 other former slaves and helps settle the new colony of Freetown in Sierra Leone. She eventually travels to England where she writes her life story.

"The Book of Negroes" has been published under various titles including "Someone Knows My Name" and "Aminata." As of 2015, more than 200,000 copies have been sold worldwide. The novel has won numerous awards and was adapted into a six-part television mini-series in 2015.

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