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Fictional Revisions of Slavery and Genealogy
in Lawrence Hill’s Any Known Blood

Dr. Nadine Flagel (Simon Fraser University)

Abstract:
In the African-Canadian novel Any Known Blood (1997), Lawrence Hill depicts several generations of the African American Cane family. The first generation’s story is revealed late, told as a fugitive slave narrative. This invented or ad hoc document fulfills the quest of the fifth generation protagonist and intersects with the larger family novel structure. In detailed assessment of the novel’s echoes and omissions of influential texts – Alex Haley’s blockbuster Roots and Osborne Anderson’s first hand account of being the only black man and sole survivor to take part in John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry – this article determines how generic juxtaposition offers a stimulating Black Canadian critique of the possibilities of limitations of both slave narratives and family saga. In particular, the generic combination is found to be a basis for the thematic transgressions of boundaries in the novel, such as interracial sexuality and border crossings.
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ISSN 1753-5794