Blood: The Stuff of Life

Lawrence Hill. House of Anansi Press (HarperCollins Canada; Canadian dist.; PGW; U.S. dist.), $15.95 trade paper (372p) ISBN 978-1-77089-323-8
Anansi presents this year's CBC Massey Lectures, written and delivered by noted author Lawrence Hill. Hill, who is perhaps best known for his bestselling The Book of Negroes (published as Someone Knows My Name in the U.S.), expounds on the subject of blood, not so much in the sense of hematology—although that does get discussed—as on how the metaphors that use blood, from purity to lineage, have shaped human societies, often for the worse. On balance, where hematology, enabling increasingly powerful medical techniques at the cost of occasional missteps, blood as a symbol seems to function mainly to give humans reasons to finely divide populations along arbitrary kinship lines, to inspire brutal violence and genocide and to justify exploitative social orders. Blood is necessary for life, but it has also come to symbolize violence; Hill's lectures explain why. His prose is transparent and compelling, and while his organization is at times idiosyncratic, it serves his ends. Although it offers some depressing views of humanity, the book is as enthralling as it is informative. The reasons for Hill's success as a writer are apparent throughout; if he were not already established as an author to follow, this work would accomplish that. Agent: Ellen Levine, Trident Media Group. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/14/2013
Release date: 10/01/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-1-74223-413-7
Ebook - 385 pages - 978-1-74224-171-5
Ebook - 131 pages - 978-1-78074-547-3
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