The Next Chapter

Lorraine Klaasen on the book she felt compelled to finish reading

The world music singer describes her emotional experience reading Lawrence Hill's The Book Of Negroes.
Singer Lorraine Klaasen says Lawrence Hill's Canada Reads–winning novel The Book of Negroes was a difficult but compelling read. (Wild West Photo)

Lorraine Klaasen is a world music singer born in Soweto, South Africa. Her mother is the well-known South African jazz singer Thandi Klaasen, and Lorraine began her musical career travelling with her mother. These days, Lorraine lives in Montreal. Below, she tells The Next Chapter about a Canadian novel that had a big impact on her.

Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes is one of those books that has stuck with me, I guess because of the history of what this book is all about. It is a book about this young girl named Aminata who was enslaved. She's telling her story, and giving a description of how she survived through all the trials and tribulations that she went through.

What I love about this book is that it tells about the history of people right here in Canada. When I read about Nova Scotia, what was fascinating was that it reminded me of Africville, which is very parallel to something we had in South Africa called Shackville. In some parts of the book, I didn't want to continue reading and I decided to put it down because it was so depressing. But then I wanted to know what happened! So I would pick it back up the next day. It's one of those books that you really have to know how it ends. I just think it is a fabulous book.

Lorraine Klaasen's comments have been edited and condensed.