By RON FANFAIR
Award-winning author Lawrence Hill is set to be conferred with his third honorary doctorate in the past year.
The acclaimed writer will receive a doctor of letters degree and address convocation at the University of Waterloo’s spring convocation today.
The fiction and non-fiction author whose work addresses, among other themes, the social history of slavery and race relations in Canada and globally, won the National Magazine Award in 2005 for the best essay – Is Africa’s Pain Black America’s Burden? – published in Canada. He also received an American Wilbur Award for Best National Television Documentary that year for a 90-minute production, Seeking Salvation: A History of the Black Church in Canada, which he wrote.
Hill’s 2007 novel, The Book of Negroes, has been translated into several languages. The novel captured the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Ontario Library Association’s Evergreen Award, the CBC Radio’s 2009 Canada Reads Competition and was a finalist for the Hurston/Wright LEGACY Award. It was also long-listed for the Giller Prize and the IMPACT award.
The novel, which is widely recognized not only as a brilliant work of fiction but also a respectable piece of historical scholarship, reached a rare milestone late last September, selling more than 500,000 copies in Canada.
A graduate of the University of Toronto Schools, Laval University where he earned an Economics degree and John Hopkins University, a Masters in Writing, Hill worked as a Globe & Mail reporter and a Winnipeg Free Press parliamentary correspondent.
Last year, the University of Toronto and Wilfrid Laurier University bestowed honorary degrees on Hill whose late father, Dr. Daniel Hill, was the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s first full-time director and commissioner.
Hill, who is fluent in French and Spanish, is an honorary patron of Canadian Crossroads International, and a member of the Council of Patrons of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society and the Advisory Council of Book Clubs for Inmates.