Thursday, November 01, 2007

Publisher Pressures Author To Rename Book

By the book

Author addresses racial issue

By Ted Shaw
Windsor Star

The fuss over the title of his novel taught Lawrence Hill there are bigger battles to wage.

The author of The Book of Negroes, who will read on Saturday at 1 p.m. at this weekend's Bookfest Windsor at the Art Gallery of Windsor, has agreed to rename his book Someone Knows My Name for its American release this month.

Published in Canada last January by HarperCollins, The Book of Negroes is a bestseller and was named among the longlist of nominees for the Giller Prize.

It relates the fictional odyssey of an African woman who is sold into slavery in the mid-1700s, then makes her way back to her homeland. Aminata Diallo, or Meena, is an imaginative composite from the personal diaries and books of 18th-century slaves.

Hill, who is the mixed-race son of human rights activists, discovered old feelings die hard in the U.S.

The Canadian title is taken from an actual historical document. The original Book of Negroes was a list of about 1,200 black Loyalists who shipped out of Nova Scotia to Sierra Leone in Africa in 1792.

But Hill's American publisher, W.W. Norton, balked.

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