CBC was so kind to send me an early viewing/reading package of the Lawrence Hill six-part mini series of The Book of Negroes. Weirdly enough, I’d never read the stunning book that was a #1 National Bestseller after being published in 2007, so I was beyond thrilled to find it waiting for me when I got home from work one day. Here is a synopsis of The Book of Negroes, or Someone Knows My Name, as it’s published in USA, Australia and New Zealand.
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.
The book itself won an abundance of awards, including, the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for best overall book, it was long listed for the Giller Prize in 2007 and the 2009 edition of CBC’s Canada Reads.
On New Years Day, I made a pot of coffee, found a comfy blanket and nestled in on my sofa to watch an episode of The Book of Negroes and then I watched another. And another. I could not stop watching! Now as I’m typing this, you’re not going to have the luxury of getting to binge watch the series in one sitting and because of the brutality of the subject, you might want the weekly break. BUT if you decide to tune into CBC tonight at 9pmET, you’re going to get hooked, just as I did and you’ll need to know what happens by tuning in over and over throughout the month of January and February.
Aminata Diallo is played by Aunjanue Ellis, who delivers a flawless and powerful performance. As I noted, the subject matter is a heavy topic and the Director Clement Virgo does a brilliant job at conveying the story with importance and conviction. You’ll turn your head away at some of the brutality that occurs, knowing that sadly, the acts and difficult scenes you’re watching were once a reality. The six-part miniseries also features Allan Hawco, Jane Alexander, Cara Ricketts, Ben Chaplin and Cuba Gooding Jr.
Watch a preview of the show below and be sure to tune in tonight at 9pmET/9:30NT. When watching, be sure to share your reactions online by using the hashtag: #BookOfNegroes or follow their official Twitter account here: @bookofnegroes