Conestoga news

May 14, 2024 8:54 AM

Award-winning author Lawrence Hill special guest at virtual book club

Acclaimed Canadian author Lawrence Hill will join a virtual book club for Conestoga employees on May 21. The club started during the pandemic to help employees build meaningful connections at a time when casually connecting with one another was limited.

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The Book of Negroes is the next title for the May meeting of the virtual book club for Conestoga employees, which will be joined by author Lawrence Hill.

The May meeting will discuss Hill’s award-winning The Book of Negroes which was adapted into a television miniseries that premiered at Cannes.

The book centres on the British freeing former slaves known as Black Loyalists who left rebel masters during the American Revolutionary War and their evacuation to Nova Scotia for resettlement, the names of the 3,000 people recorded in what was called the Book of Negroes.

Host of the book club Jessica Wilhelm, a professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, reached out to Hill and he agreed to join the club for their Zoom gathering.

Hill accepting the invitation was a great surprise for Wilhelm, who always emails the authors of the books picked by the club to discuss, but this was the first time one agreed.

The Conestoga Book Club first met in February 2021 and now has about 65 members from across all areas of the college who meet about every five weeks. The Book of Negroes will be the club’s 27th book.

“During the pandemic, many of us faced the challenge of staying connected with coworkers while working remotely. After seeing the Special Interest Communities at Conestoga, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to start a book club,” Wilhelm said.

Many people agreed, excited about the opportunity to explore literature while connecting with other college employees. Enthusiasm for the club has continued after the rules to combat COVID-19 eased.

Special Interest Communities were created and facilitated by Conestoga employees for Conestoga employees during the pandemic as a virtual place to gather, have conversations and share passions, including groups focused on food, travel and well-being.

“Conestoga Book Club members say they enjoy the group because they are encouraged to read books they might not typically select. The book club is not just about reading; it is about building connections, sharing ideas, and enjoying each other’s company.”

Hill will also discuss the parallels between The Book of Negroes and his most recent novel for young readers, Beatrice and Croc Harry.

The Book of Negroes follows the life of a fictional woman who had been taken captive as a girl in West Africa and sold into slavery, first in South Carolina. She escaped to New York City, where she was freed and later evacuated to Nova Scotia.

Beatrice and Croc Harry is about a girl who wakes up in an enormous forest, alone and with amnesia. She makes friends with a fast-talking crocodile and together they head out on a journey they hope will bring Beatrice home. The book club is honoured to welcome Hill, Wilhelm said.

“The evening promises an exciting opportunity to inquire about Lawrence Hill’s writing process, inspirations, and notable achievements.”