Lawrence Hill

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For the suburb of Bracknell in the UK, see Lawrence Hill, Bracknell Forest, for the inner city area of Bristol, UK see Lawrence Hill, Bristol.
Lawrence Hill
Lawrence Hill.JPG
Occupation novelist, non-fiction writer
Nationality Canadian
Period 1990s–present
Notable works Black Berry, Sweet Juice, The Book of Negroes

Lawrence Hill is a Canadian novelist and memoirist. He is best known for the 2001 memoir Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada and the 2007 novel The Book of Negroes.

In 2013, Hill was selected to deliver that year's Massey Lecture on the theme "Blood: The Stuff of Life".

Personal life[edit]

Hill was born in Newmarket, Ontario, the son of American immigrants to Canada — a black father and a white mother. Hill has written in his bestselling memoir Black Berry, Sweet Juice of how his parents — social activist Donna Hill and social scientist/public servant Daniel G. Hill — met, married, left the United States the day after they married in 1953 in Washington, D.C., and raised a family in Toronto. Growing up in the 1960s in Don Mills, a predominantly white suburb of Toronto, Hill was very influenced by his parents' human rights work and would go on to explore in his writing themes related to identity and belonging.[1][2]

After attending the University of Toronto Schools, Hill earned a B.A. in economics from Laval University in Quebec City and an M.A. in writing from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He was a reporter with The Globe and Mail and parliamentary correspondent for The Winnipeg Free Press.

Having lived and worked in Baltimore, in Spain and in France, Hill currently lives in Hamilton, Ontario, with his wife and five children. His brother is singer-songwriter Dan Hill.

Writing career[edit]

Hill is the author of seven books. His three novels are Some Great Thing (1992), Any Known Blood (1997) and The Book of Negroes (2007), which was published in the United States under the title Someone Knows My Name.[3] This third novel has been his most successful to date, winning several awards.

His non-fiction books are: Trials and Triumphs: The Story of African-Canadians (1993), Women of Vision: The Story of the Canadian Negro Women's Association (1996), Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada (2001), and The Deserter's Tale: The Story of an Ordinary Soldier Who Walked Away from the War in Iraq, with Joshua Key (2007).

He was appointed one of six Writers in Residence with the Toronto District School Board from October 2011 to May 2012.

Activism[edit]

In 2007, Hill collaborated with former US-Army soldier (now deserter) Joshua Key to write Key's account of the Iraq War. His book The Deserter's Tale: The Story of an Ordinary Soldier Who Walked Away from the War in Iraq is the result of their interviews and meetings.

Hill has a deep interest in the advancement of women and girls in Africa.[citation needed] He is an honorary patron of Crossroads International, and he volunteered overseas with Crossroads three times - to Niger, Mali and Cameroon in the 1970s and '80s. This experience had a profound impact on him as a person and as a writer. His first published work of fiction, a short story called "My Side of the Fence", recounted his experiences with Crossroads in Niger.

Awards[edit]

The Book of Negroes, published in the US under the title Someone Knows My Name, won the 2008 overall Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book, the 2007 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the 2008 Evergreen Award from the Ontario Library Association, and CBC Radio's 2009 edition of Canada Reads, and was a finalist for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award and was longlisted for the Giller Prize and the IMPAC Award. Hill was named 2009 Author of the Year by Go On Girl!, the largest African-American women's book club.[4]

In 2010, Hill was awarded the Bob Edwards Award from the Alberta Theatre Projects in Calgary. The award "recognizes a literary figure who has demonstrated outstanding curiosity and respect for freedom of expression".[5]

Works[edit]

Novels[edit]

  • Some Great Thing (Winnipeg: Turnstone Press, 1992)
  • Any Known Blood (Canada, Toronto: HarperCollins, 1997; William Morrow, New York, 1999)
  • The Book of Negroes (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2007); published as Someone Knows My Name in the USA, Australia, and New Zealand (Canada, Toronto: HarperCollins, 2007)
  • Blood: The Stuff of Life (House of Anansi Press; Canadian first edition, 2013)

Non-fiction[edit]

  • Trials and Triumphs: The Story of African-Canadians (Toronto: Umbrella Press, 1993)
  • Women of Vision: The Story of the Canadian Negro Women's Association (Toronto: Umbrella Press, 1996)
  • Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada (Toronto: HarperCollins Canada, 2001)
  • The Deserter's Tale: The Story of an Ordinary Soldier Who Walked Away from the War in Iraq, with Joshua Key (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2007, ISBN 0-87113-954-5; Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 2007, ISBN 0-88784-208-9; Melbourne: Text Publishing Co., 2007)

Film[edit]

  • Seeking Salvation: A History of the Black Church in Canada, Travesty Productions, Toronto, 2004 (winner of 2005 American Wilbur Award for best national television documentary)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lawrence Hill - Biography".
  2. ^ A tribute: "Dad will always 'live within us' - A son remembers Daniel Hill III, Activist, storyteller, champion,inspirer", Toronto Star, July 6, 2003.
  3. ^ "Why I'm not allowed my book title", Books blog, 20 May 2008, guardian.co.uk.
  4. ^ The Go On Girl! Book Club Annual Author Awards.
  5. ^ "Writer Hill honoured by Calgary theatre group", CBC News, October 4, 2010.

External links[edit]