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Extended Audio Sample Any Known Blood, by Lawrence Hill Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,003 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Lawrence Hill Narrator: Kevin R. Free Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Spanning five generations, sweeping across a century and a half of almost unknown history, this acclaimed and unexpectedly funny novel is the story of a man seeking himself in the mirror of his family’s past.

There were Canes in Canada before the United States erupted into civil war. Their roots are deep, their legacy is rich, but Langston Cane V knows little of his heritage. He is thirty-eight, divorced, and childless and has just been fired for sabotaging a government official’s speech. The eldest son of a white mother and prominent black father, Langston feels more acutely than ever the burden of his illustrious family name and his racially mixed heritage. To be black in a white society is hard enough; to be half-black, half-white is to have no identity at all. Or so Langston believes. After a run-in with his father, Langston takes off for his feisty aunt’s house in Baltimore, where he embarks on a remarkable quest for his family’s past.

It is said that those who forget history are condemned to repeat it, but to Langston, history offers not condemnation but reprieve. For when he stumbles across a treasure trove of family documents, he sets off on a journey through time that will lead him back to the famous antislavery raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, and the great-great-grandfather who fought beside John Brown. He rediscovers the long line of relatives who have battled for racial justice, decade after decade. He finds passion, dignity, and courage—and, at last, by unearthing and giving voice to those who came before him, he finds himself.

Rich in historical detail and gracefully flowing from the slave trade of nineteenth-century Virginia to the present, Any Known Blood gives life to a story never before told, a story of five generations of a black Canadian family whose tragedies and victories merge with the American experience.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Any Known Blood is a remarkable achievement. Here is an immensely readable novel, populated with sympathetic yet realistic characters. It deals sensitively, yet often humorously, with one of the most compelling issues of our time in North America—the ever-shifting, ever-problematic relationship between the races. Lawrence Hill is a wonderfully talented writer.”

    Joyce Carol Oates

  • “Hill’s affable narrative voice, spiced with wit and humor, makes Cane’s quest a delightful one...within Any Known Blood are at least five more stories dying to be told.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A good storyteller with an unusually good story to tell...Lawrence Hill’s Any Known Blood retails the fascinating history of an African-Canadian-American family of super achievers from the Underground Railroad to the present. An impressive and absorbing narrative.”

    John Barth, New York Times bestselling author of Giles Goat Boy

  • “Lawrence Hill masterfully threads the history of the five generations of men named Langston Cane into an engaging commentary of changing times...Hill’s depth, skill, and objectivity come to the fore…allowing him to weave a story of prejudice, segregation, and slavery without slamming it into a sermon.”

    Toronto Star

  • Any Known Blood is an intricate but not a complicated novel. Hill is a wonderful storyteller, never a reformer or a preacher...the novel’s...narrative line is clear and purposeful and translucent, imbued with a richness that enriches.”

    Montreal Gazette

  • “[A] substantial, historically inflected novel...Hill’s generous spirit expands over a wide and variegated landscape of human relations; he forgives oppression and reconciles himself to history with surprising equanimity.”

    Publishers Weekly

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Smashley | 2/20/2014

    " Really ejoyed this book. Main character was witty and easy to like. The author did a great job reflecting on the struggles of the civil rights of "poeple of pigment" spanning several generations. Will definetly be reccomending this book! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Mae | 2/15/2014

    " I thoroughly enjoyed this book - did not mind the "back and forth" between the generations at all and thought the characters were plausible and interesting. Brought more understanding to a time in history that is certainly not our proudest moment. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Kathy | 2/11/2014

    " This book was good, but not as compelling as Book of Negroes(Someone Knows My Name). Lawrence Hill wrote Any Known Blood 8 years earlier and I think his writing style is much stronger in his more recent work. Still, the book provided interesting insight into the challenges of being black or of mixed race in Canada and the United States. It was interesting to witness the experiences of the various Langston's over five generations. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Lynn Kearney | 2/11/2014

    " 3.5 Not nearly as good as The Book of Negroes, his first (called something else in the US). This book feels very autobiographical despite his disclaimer in the notes. It's about a prominent black family in Ontario - white mother and black father, with two sons (just like his family), protagonist so pale-skinned he could pass for white(just like Lawrence Hill) etc. Good story about underground railroad stuff I knew very little about. Trivia alert. His brother Dan Hill is the singer/songwriter who had the one big hit in the 70's and then was seldom heard of again. "

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About the Author
Author Lawrence Hill

Lawrence Hill is the author of the novels Someone Knows My Name, Any Known Blood, and Some Great Thing, his widely praised first novel. He is also the author of the nonfiction work The Deserter’s Tale, with Joshua Key. He lives in Ontario, Canada.