Monday, December 7, 2015

Any Known Blood by Lawrence Hill

Any Known Blood was my second read of the year. The story begins in Canada, where speech writer Langston Cane V pulls a hilarious stunt with the Prime Minister’s speech. It leads to the Prime Minister, and subsequently Langston, being “fired with cause.” After viewing the incident as a chance to start anew, he sets out to reconstruct the lives of his ancestors, particularly the four generations of Cane men that preceded him.

This is an intricate story that delves into the lives of the Canes’ paths to manhood beginning with Langston’s great-great-grandfather’s new start in Canada after his escape from slavery, though he never could call it home. He eventually returned to the US to participate in the raid on Harpers Ferry. Each of the five Cane men’s stories are told and it is Lawrence Hill doing what he does beautifully - historical fiction.

The story weaves in the Civil Rights struggle in Canada. Until reading about Langston the third’s encounters with the Ku Klux Klan in Ontario, I was clueless about the issues there that were similar to those in America’s Deep South. One of the Canes makes a home in Baltimore, where violence was as present then as it is today. Part of the novel is set in Washington, DC, where colorism played a major role in the African American community at one time, even contributing to who a person could marry.

I read Any Known Blood following The Book of Negroes/Someone Knows My Name and it led me to go ahead and pick up Hill's first novel Some Great Thing. Lawrence Hill’s fourth novel, The Illegal, will be released on January 25, 2016 and guess who has already read that too! The film rights have been acquired, so as with The Book of Negroes, The Illegal will be coming to the big screen!


Mary Okeke said...

Thanks to your review I purchase the Book of Negroes... I am yet to read it though.
Thank you!

Shannon said...

Mary, I hope The Book of Negroes makes your list of 2016 high priority reads. It was perfect.

Leslie said... this book of Hill's focuses more on the men's stories....a major distinction. Did you enjoy is as much as The Book of Negroes? Either way I am intrigued to read both.

Shannon said...

Hi there, Leslie. To be fair, I try not to compare anything to The Book of Negroes since it's made my list of best-books-ever. But I will say that someone I recommended it to said they enjoyed it just as much, if not more than the Book of Negroes. I read Hill's first three novels in reverse chronological order, so I could see that books got better with each one he published.

Leslie Reese said...

You have been nominated for a Blogger Recognition Award. Congratulations and thanks for blogging!