Monday, February 7, 2011

Someone Knows My Name

Finally, my book club picked a good one. A very good one.

Someone Knows My Name is an excellent piece of historical fiction writing. Aminata Diallo is abducted from her West African home at age 11, marched for months to the coast where she is sold by slave traders. Barely surviving the horrific ocean crossing, she is delivered to the Carolina Coast to work the indigo plantations. Her adventures and harships, as she travels the eastern coast of the Americas and Canada, back to Africa and ultimately to England, are mesmerizing. It is always a surprise to me when a male author creates such a believable, authentic, unique and memorable female character, and Lawrence Hill has done exactly that in this riveting book.

Meticulously researched, steeped in history and harsh reality, Someone Knows My Name entertains, educates and resonates. After finishing the book in a weekend marathon of reading, I scoured the internet for more details and facts surrounding this facet of slavery I knew little, if anything, about. British relocation of American slaves to Novia Scotia at the end of the Revolution, and their subsequent resettlement with other former slaves in Freetown, Sierra Leone was both fascinating and sobering. Observed through the intelligent eyes of Aminata, the irony of the American patriots' fight against British oppression is painful. Aminata carries herself with dignity, strength and pride through repeated and shameful acts of inhumanity, living to tell her story in her own words, on her own terms. This book is beautifully written, heart wrenching and deeply moving, and I recommend it highly.

For those who enjoy this era in history, and this genre, I also recommend The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to a Nation, another unforgettable character in a great piece of historical fiction writing.