Selected for The Globe 100 Books in 2013.
In this year’s CBC Massey Lectures, bestselling author Lawrence Hill offers a provocative examination of the scientific and social history of blood, and on the ways that it unites and divides us today.
Blood runs red through every person’s arteries and fulfills the same functions in every human being. The study of blood has advanced our understanding of biology and improved medical treatments, but its cultural and social representations have divided us perennially. Blood pulses through religion, literature, and the visual arts. Every time it pools or spills, we learn a little more about what brings human beings together and what pulls us apart. For centuries, perceptions of difference in our blood have separated people on the basis of gender, race, class, and nation. Ideas about blood purity have spawned rules about who gets to belong to a family or cultural group, who enjoys the rights of citizenship and nationality, what privileges one can expect to be granted or denied, whether you inherit poverty or the right to rule over the masses, what constitutes fair play in sport, and what defines a person’s identity.
Blood: The Stuff of Life is a bold meditation on blood as an historical and contemporary marker of identity, belonging, gender, race, class, citizenship, athletic superiority, and nationhood.
Lawrence Hill is the author of several novels and works of nonfiction, including Some Great Thing, Any Known Blood, and the award-winning national bestseller The Book of Negroes. He also wrote the memoir Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada and co-authored, with Joshua Key, The Deserter’s Tale: The Story of an Ordinary Soldier Who Walked Away from the War in Iraq.
Where Blood shines (glistens?) is in the many places where Hill exposes and explores the contradictions and liminal spaces of a topic that — whether we like it or not — unites us all.
— Emily Donaldson, Toronto Star, September 2013
The book is chock full of fascinating statistics, anecdotes and arguments about blood and ranges in topics...It's entertaining, shocking and informative; the lectures should be both challenging and engaging.
— Tracy Sherlock, Vancouver Sun, September 2013
...elegantly argued lectures.
— Brian Bethune, Maclean's, September 2013
...Hill is a wonderful storyteller, and it’s the stories – his own in particular – that absorb and resonate.
— Carolyn Abraham, Globe and Mail, October 2013
Transparent and compelling. The book is as enthralling as it is informative. The reasons for Hill's success as a writer are apparent throughout.
— Publisher's Weekly, November 2013
A natural choice for Massey lecturer
— Ian McGillis, The Montreal Gazette, October 2013
...a comprehensive and powerful social history of blood and its myriad implications for the ways we view ourselves.
— Devyani Saltzman, The Province, October 2013
The book is enlivened by Hill's personal and familial experiences with blood... he affirms the humanist and scientifically accurate description that we are all part of the unfolding diversity of the human family. Amen!
— Brian Ostrow, Blog for the Bookstore, October 2013
...Hill is a commanding storyteller...
— Kamal Al-Solaylee, Quill & Quire, October 2013