Lawrence Hill receives 2012 Freedom to Read Award

Author Lawrence Hill has received the Writers' Union of Canada's 2012 Freedom to Read Award.

"We felt that he deserved this honour on the basis of his reasoned and eloquent response to the threat to burn his novel The Book of Negroes," said Greg Hollingshead, chair of the Union, in a press release Wednesday.

lawrence-cover-175.jpgLast June, a Dutch group threatened to burn copies of the award-winning novel, which was first published in 2007, because they opposed the use of the word "negro" in the title.

Publishers in the United States and Australia called the book Someone Knows My Name. In Quebec the book is titled Aminata.

But Hill has said context is needed. The Book of Negroes isn't just the title, it refers to an actual historical document: a British naval ledger charting the migration of 3,000 African slaves from New York to Nova Scotia and then to Africa.

The Union presents the award each year as part of Freedom to Read Week across Canada, which aims to draw attention to censorship.

Previous recipients include John Raulston Saul, Alan Borovoy and Nancy Fleming.