Lawrence Hill’s remarkable novel, Any Known Blood, a multi-generational story about a Canadian man of mixed race, was met with critical acclaim and it marked the emergence of a powerful new voice in Canadian writing. Now Hill, himself a child of a black father and white mother, brings us Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada, a provocative and unprecedented look at a timely and engrossing topic.
In Black Berry, Sweet Juice, Hill movingly reveals his struggle to understand his own personal and racial identity. Raised by human rights activist parents in a predominantly white Ontario suburb, he is imbued with lingering memories and offers a unique perspective. In a satirical yet serious tone, Hill describes the ambiguity involved in searching for his identity -- an especially complex and difficult journey in a country that prefers to see him as neither black nor white.
Interspersed with slices of his personal experiences, fascinating family history and the experiences of thirty-six other Canadians of mixed race interviewed for this book, Black Berry, Sweet Juice also examines contemporary racial issues in Canadian society. Hill explores the terms used to describe children of mixed race, the unrelenting hostility towards mix-race couples and the real meaning of the black Canadian experience. It arrives at a critical time when, in the highly publicized and controversial case of Elijah Van de Perre, the son of a white mother and black father in British Columbia, the Supreme Court of Canada has just granted custody to Elijah’s mother, Kimberly Van de Perre.
A reflective, sensitive and often humourous book, Black Berry, Sweet Juice is a thought provoking discourse on the current status of race relations in Canada and it’s a fascinating and important read for us all.
About the author
LAWRENCE HILL is a professor of creative writing at the University of Guelph. He is the author of ten books, including The Illegal; The Book Of Negroes; Any Known Blood; and Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada. He is the winner of various awards, including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize, and is a two-time winner of CBC Radio’s Canada Reads. Hill delivered the North America-wide 2013 Massey Lectures, based on his non-fiction book Blood: The Stuff of Life. He co-wrote the adaptation for the six-part television miniseries The Book of Negroes, which attracted millions of viewers and won eleven Canadian Screen Awards. The recipient of nine honorary doctorates from Canadian universities, Hill served as chair of the jury of the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize. He is a volunteer with Book Clubs for Inmates and the Black Loyalist Heritage Society, and is an honorary patron of Crossroads International, for which he has volunteered for more than thirty-five years and with which he has travelled to Niger, Cameroon, Mali, and Swaziland. A 2018 Berton House resident in Dawson City, he is working on a new novel about the African-American soldiers who helped build the Alaska Highway in northern B.C. and Yukon in 1942–43. He is a Member of the Order of Canada, has been inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame, and in 2019 was named a Canada Library and Archives Scholar. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario, and in Woody Point, Newfoundland.