I have followed Lawrence Hill’s works avidly. I was first introduced to his writing through Book of Negroes and have since read *almost* all of his works. I have never found myself to be disappointed by his works. Unfortunately, I was unable to rate Some Great Thing higher than 3/5 stars.
Some Great Thing is the story of Mahatma Grafton, a young adult man living in Winnipeg, dark skinned without knowledge or interest in his heritage. He rolls his eyes at his father’s proselytizing over their shared heritage and the discrimination that black people face in Canada.
Unfortunately, Mahatma is not very well fleshed out. He is a journalist for a Winnipeg paper and spends his time chasing stories as we are introduced to several other “funk” characters. Despite Hill attempting to grow his large cast of characters, I felt that having so many varied people with different characteristics spun out of control quickly. I wanted to enjoy the characters and learn more about them, but there were just too damn many.
Furthermore, on top of the characters being too confusing and poorly rounded, the plot was lacking. Mahatma spent his time attempting to break a story on the French culture in Winnipeg and the province of Manitoba, but nothing really comes out of that. Some random tragedies occur that you don’t care much about. People die quickly and you’re left scratching your head.
At the end of the book I paused and I couldn’t place my finger on *what* exactly this novel was about. Yes, your eyes are opened to the fact that minorities in Canada face discrimination (and that’s important to raise awareness of), but other than that, the comparison of the French discrimination and the black discrimination was confusing and didn’t segue well into each other.
In my humble opinion, Hill writes best when he focuses on a smaller cast of characters in his novels versus a large jumbled assortment of people that he tries to draw together in a forced way. I still enjoyed this novel though…just not as much as his other ones.