Decades later, Mr. Hill is trying to persuade a Dutchman not to publicly burn his novel for using another n-word in its title.
Roy Groenberg of the Netherlands has announced he will burn copies of Mr. Hill’s 2007 novel, The Book of Negroes, in Amsterdam on Wednesday.
Mr. Hill received word of the burning last week in an email from Mr. Groenberg, head of the Foundation to Honour and Restore Victims of Slavery in Suriname.
“We, the descendants of the slaves in the former Dutch colony Suriname, want [to] let you know that we do not accept a book with the title The Book of Negroes. We have struggled for a long time to make the word ‘nigger’ disappear from the Dutch language and now you come out with this Book of Negroes! A real shame!” wrote Mr. Groenberg.
If Mr. Groenberg spent “five minutes” reading The Book of Negroes, he probably would not want to burn it anymore, Mr. Hill suggested.
“Book burning is something that Nazis did, it’s something that the people who led the Spanish Inquisition did, it’s a gesture designed to intimidate and silence — it’s hateful,” he said in an interview.
Photo: Author Lawrence Hill (Colleen De Neve/Postmedia News)