Any Known Blood

Lawrence Hill, Author William Morrow & Company $24 (528p) ISBN 978-0-688-16208-5
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.)
Reviewed on: 01/04/1999
Release date: 01/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4561-1485-5
Ebook - 656 pages - 978-1-55468-657-5
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