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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: January 2013 ISBN: 9781449836955
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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 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 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 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 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. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Yolanda Ridge | 2/5/2014

    " Any Known Blood is not as good as The Book of Negroes but it's still an enjoyable read. A story that spans five generations, the family history is interesting and the characters are all well developed. The narrative jumps around a lot between Langston Cane the first and Langston Cane the fift,h who tells the story in first person. This made it a bit too disjointed for me, since I didn't have long, continuous stretches of time to read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dianne Kaucharik | 2/4/2014

    " So many reviews have already described the plot so I'll jump right to my critique. First of all, the book's prologue (and other scenes as well) seemed rather gratuitous and didn't have a later tie in...or did I miss that? Although Lawrence Hill's writing style is fluent and easy, I found the manner in which the story unfolded confusing at times. With 5 generations of black men having the same name of Langston Cane and many of them having relationships with white women, I had to refer regularly to the family tree at the beginning of the book to keep them straight. I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Langston Cane the first, which was revealed only at the end of the book. Although I usually don't have issues with non-chronological stories, I do wonder if this particular story would have been more enjoyable if it had been chronological. It would be an interesting experiment to re-publish it that way to test the theory. Lawrence Hill's "The Book of Negroes", one of my all-time favourite novels, is definitely a tough act to follow! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Crestina | 1/15/2014

    " Another interesting read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Janet | 1/1/2014

    " This was a good read. Not as good as The Book of Negros but I enjoyed reading it. I would look forward to reading more from Lawrence Hill. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christal | 12/31/2013

    " not as good as Book of Negroes but still a good read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bob Peragallo | 12/8/2013

    " Excellent book....Great story, well written, could hardly put this one down. My first book by Lawrence Hill but plan to read more. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Samantha | 11/7/2013

    " This was a great novel. Beautifully written with a great sense of humour, it captures you and makes you want to know more about generation after generation of Langston Canes and their own families and accomplishments. I didn't want this novel to end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Natalie | 10/20/2013

    " Loved this book..mirrors the life of the author closely. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Peggygillies | 10/13/2013

    " Not as good as Book of Negroes. It's an earlier book, but still worth reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jill Nisbet | 9/18/2013

    " It was a little slow and long winded at times, but the story it's self was intriguing... "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Christina | 8/10/2013

    " I was disappointed in this book. I loved The Book of Negros and hoped I'd like this as much. Story was boring and never had a real climax. Not even sure of the point. I had to make myself finish it - figuring there had to be SOMETHING good that would happen. nope... not so much. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Emily | 7/25/2013

    " not as good as book of negros.... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leslie | 12/17/2012

    " Every bit as good as The Book of Negroes - Lawrence Hill knows how to write! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jessica | 12/8/2012

    " I had to read this as part of my summer homework assignment and, I have to say, I was not looking forward to it at all. But I was surprised! It was actually an interesting book. Albeit, it was a bit hard to follow at times, but I still really liked it. Definitely recommended :) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shama | 11/3/2012

    " Slow to start, but well worth reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Eva Havas-lobel | 3/12/2012

    " Good book but nothing like The Book of Negroes "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tara | 10/12/2011

    " This author is great, he really captivates his readers. This book has a lot to do with Oakville Ontario back in the day, which is really interesting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bev | 9/4/2011

    " I read this book as I was teaching a group of women The Underground Railroad Quilt and its association to our Town of Oakville. I couldn't put it down. 5 stars to Lawrence Hill for this book. I recommend it to a lot of people. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Harry Monk | 8/18/2011

    " This is an awesome book and my best read so far this year. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sharon | 8/6/2011

    " Great Canadian historical author "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stephen | 4/19/2011

    " Hill is an amazing and unique author. I cannot wait for his next book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Dmj | 4/4/2011

    " very entertaining which gives a glimmer of the truth in the black community "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mary Lynn | 3/14/2011

    " Found it hard to feel engaged in the story line. Not nearly so good as Book of Negros. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jason | 3/12/2011

    " I liked this book, even though I knew it would not be as good as "The Book of Negroes". It wasn't, but I am still glad I read it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andrea | 2/9/2011

    " I enjoy Lawrence Hill's writing - I like his stories....but it wasn't as good as The Book of Negros. I did enjoy reading the book - I love the history in this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bob | 2/6/2011

    " Excellent book....Great story, well written, could hardly put this one down. My first book by Lawrence Hill but plan to read more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brevan | 11/26/2010

    " Wonderful story of the 5 generations of Cane men.
    Quite captivated by the strong response of the Cane men to "getting" their women and the passions that ensue. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Samantha | 9/29/2010

    " This was a great novel. Beautifully written with a great sense of humour, it captures you and makes you want to know more about generation after generation of Langston Canes and their own families and accomplishments. I didn't want this novel to end. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anita | 8/17/2010

    " This is an easy summer read. Nowhere near as heavy as The Book of Negroes. This is more of a biography of his family. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Natalie | 7/6/2010

    " Loved this book..mirrors the life of the author closely. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shama | 5/30/2010

    " Slow to start, but well worth reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sheri | 4/1/2010

    " A wonderfully written book! Loved it so much.....I highly recommend it~! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alison | 1/6/2010

    " Good book, but not as good as The Book of Negroes. "

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