Cover image for Any known blood
Title:
Any known blood
Author:
Hill, Lawrence, 1957-
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Morrow, 1997.
Physical Description:
xiv, 512 pages : 1 map ; 22 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780688162085
Format :
Book

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Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

Spanning five generations, sweeping across a century and a half of almost unknown history, this acclaimed and unexpectedly funny novel is the story of a man seeking himself in the mirror of his family's past.

There were Canes in Canada before the United States erupted into civil war. Their roots are deep, their legacy is rich, but Langston Cane V knows little of his heritage. He is thirty-eight, divorced, and childless and has just been fired for sabotaging a government official's speech. The eldest son of a white mother and prominent black father, Langston feels more acutely than ever the burden of his illustrious family name and his racially mixed heritage. To be black in a white society is hard enough; to be half-black, half-white is to have no identity at all. Or so Langston believes. After a run-in with his father, Langston takes off for his feisty aunt's house in Baltimore, where he embarks on a remarkable quest for his family's past.

It's said that those who forget history are condemned to repeat it, but to Langston, history offers not condemnation but reprieve. For when he stumbles across a treasure trove of family documents, he sets off on a journey through time that will lead him back to the famous antislavery raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, and the great-great-grandfather who fought beside John Brown. He rediscovers the long line of relatives who have battled for racial justice, decade after decade. He finds passion, dignity, and courage--and, at last, by unearthing and giving voice to those who came before him, he finds himself.

Rich in historical detail and gracefully flowing from the slave trade of nineteenth-century Virginia to the present, Any Known Blood gives life to a story never before told, a story of five generations of a black Canadian family whose tragedies and victories merge with the American experience.


Author Notes

Lawrence Hill was born in 1957 in Newmarket, Ontario. He earned a B.A. in economics from Laval University in Quebec City and later an M. A. in writing from Johns Hopkins University. Hill taught undergraduate fiction writing while completing his M.A. at Johns Hopkins, and since graduating has taught creative writing in numerous adult education programs. He has worked as a full-time newspaper reporter for The Globe and Mail and The Winnipeg Free Press. He has authored several books. Hill's nonfiction books include Trials and Triumphs: The Story of African-Canadians, Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada , The Deserter's Tale: The Story of An Ordinary Soldier Who Walked Away from the War in Iraq, and Dear Sir, I Intend to Burn Your Book: An Anatomy of a Book Burning. Hill's fictional works include Some Great Thing, Any Known Blood ,The Book of Negroes, and The Illegal. The Book of Negroes won several awards including the Rogers Writers Trust Fiction Prize.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

The son of a black man and a white woman, the down-and-out narrator of Hill's substantial, historically inflected novel, struggles to determine his identity in racially polarized Canada and within his own well-educated, upwardly mobile family. At 39, Langston Cane V is divorced, childless, uprooted, and a failed writer. Prompted by an elderly mentor to write about his forebear's illustrious past, Langston decides to investigate the family lore that claims the first Langston Cane died fighting alongside John Brown at Harpers Ferry in 1859. His research takes him to Baltimore, where half the family lives‘among them his tough-talking, corpulent Aunt Milly, who's kept her distance from Langston's side of the Cane clan since Langston's parents' marriage. As he pieces together the puzzle of the past through Milly's stories, diary entries, newspaper clippings, letters and ephemera, Langston's own life appears in sharper focus. His Virgil in urban education is Yoyo, an entrepreneuring Cameroonian illegal immigrant. Langston survives a drive-by shooting, experiences a sexual rejuvenation with a young woman from Milly's church and discovers an old scandal involving his aunt. Hill's (Some Great Thing) generous spirit expands over a wide and variegated landscape of human relations; he forgives oppression and reconciles himself to history with surprising equanimity. His straightforward, good-humored prose, however, seems too deferent to the richness of the story being told. A touch of lyricism would limber up this lengthy work. Author tour. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


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