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Some Great Thing

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  725 ratings  ·  55 reviews
Mahatma Grafton is a disillusioned university graduate burdened with a famous name, and suffering from the curse of his generation -- a total lack of interest in the state of the world. The son of a retired railway porter from Winnipeg, he returns home for a job as a reporter with The Winnipeg Herald. Soon Mahatma is scoping local stories of murder and mayhem, breaking a p ...more
Paperback, 328 pages
Published October 21st 2009 by HarperCollins Canada (first published January 16th 1992)
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Average rating 3.57  · 
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 ·  725 ratings  ·  55 reviews

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Feb 21, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read The Book of Negroes first, and enjoyed it very much, I was curious about how Lawrence Hill started as a writer; what was the book that had to go through the mill of rejection before he was crowned and accepted into that hallowed crowd of CanLit authors? And I wasn’t disappointed in reading this book. He picked two winning strategies with this debut novel – humour and controversy.

Some Great Thing could be renamed “Days in the Lives of Journalists” for it follows the episodic scoops a
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
This book was soo precious, I loved every word of it. I loved the characters, and the setting. Definitely adding this to the list as one of my favourite Canadian books, and favourite books period. For a debut novel from Lawrence Hill I loved every minute of it and I can't wait for his new book :) ...more
Aug 09, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good book -- not a great one, like The Book of Negroes, but a first-rate first novel by an author who was writing from his own early experience.
One can just picture the rookie reporter Mahatma Grafton as Lawrence Hill himself, who toiled at a newspaper in Winnipeg for a couple of years before following his true passion for fiction. And as a former Winnipeg journalist, I can vouch for the veracity of the weird and wonderful characters that inhabited newsrooms in the 1980s, when this st
Feb 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian, 2017-books
this was a good read, but i found the flow and continuity inconsistent and disjointed. as well, characters and storylines were underdeveloped in some cases. but the premise and characters were interesting and i was mostly engaged with the book and entertained. hill tried to cover a lot of ground here and while it didn't all come together wonderfully, it did help shine a light on many issues that are still problems today.

this is hill's first novel, and i liked very much seeing what his first outi
How could a book that examines in some depth the issues of racism, francophobia, welfare, police brutality and media corruption, be charming and light hearted?LH has managed to pull this off in this novel written before his more well known Book of Negroes.

LH is a skillful and confident story teller.His penetrating gaze is softened by compassion and sly humour. We get the facts with the merest trace of didacticism. His keen awareness of the vagaries of fate brings together a disparate cast of cha
Oct 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Before there was the award-winning The Book of Negroes, there was Some Great Thing, Lawrence Hill's debut novel. Recently re-released, Some Great Thing tells the story of Mahatma Grafton, a young, arrogant black man who tries his hand at writing for the newspaper The Winnipeg Herald. Lawrence moves back home to live with his father, Ben, while he takes a stab at journalism, but he ends up getting far more than he bargained for as he discovers that his hometown is brimming with racial tensions as ...more
Sean Kelly
Apr 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and managed to read it in about 4 days while on vacation. Main character is interesting and likeable, the plot seems realistic, and is influenced by some important Canadian history and culture. I recommend this book, not sure whether reading Hill's debut after "Book of Negroes" will impress all readers, but for me it didn't matter one bit. ...more
Woyingi Blog
Black Canadian novelist Lawrence Hill has won international acclaim with his novel The Book of Negroes but my review is of his first novel, Some Great Thing, first published in 1992 and reissued in 2009 by Harper Collins Canada.

I chose to read Some Great Thing while travelling by bus to Winnipeg, where the novel is set. This was my first trip to Manitoba and I had a 33 hour bus ride to survive. I easily lost myself in Some Great Thing, with its array of contrasting characters, its insights on C
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As he did in The Illegal, Lawrence Hill created quirky memorable characters the reader would enjoy getting to know. I did not know the author's background but the book sounded autobiographical right from the start. The contrast of cultures between Winnipeg where most of the story takes place, and Cameroon where several of the characters end up at one point in the story, is more than interesting. It makes me look at my own culture with fresh eyes. To some degree, this feels like a Terry Fallis no ...more
Sep 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This started slowly for me, but then I could not put it down. It is Lawrence Hill's( Book Of Negroes) debut novel. His protagonist is a black journalist in the 80's in Winnipeg, roughly the same as Hill started his career. Background events and attitudes in Manitoba are very interesting, as are his fabulous characters. A great read, and informative. ...more
Oct 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Can't get enough of Lawrence Hill. His characters become your family and best friends. ...more
Jul 02, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
I loved how the story focussed on news and newspaper work. As a journalist, there were things I appreciated. I think there`s probably a lot of young Lawerence in this book. ...more
Feb 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a great writer! A great book.
Paul Weiss
A "black" comedy on Canadian culture!

While not quite up to the level of his best-selling THE BOOK OF NEGROES, his debut novel, SOME GREAT THING is a perfect metaphor for the future of Lawrence Hill's writing. Just as Lawrence Hill was born to produce superb and important literature, Mahatma Grafton's father knew, from the very date of his birth, that he was destined for "some great thing"! Just as, when writing as a reporter, Lawrence Hill knew that he was destined to squeeze something more from
Jan 27, 2019 rated it liked it
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 shar
Jan 18, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to love this book, I really did.

Some Great Thing narrates the life of Mahatma Grafton, a journalist starting a new job at The Herald in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He returns to his hometown to live with his father, hoping the arrangement would be temporary, and is exposed to issues he actively removed himself from as a child – namely French-Anglo tensions and racism against his own Black skin.

Lawrence Hill writes this novel drawing inspiration from his experience as a newspaper reporter in Wi
Steve Wardlaw
This was a thoroughly enjoyable book that exposes some of the disturbing social issues from 20th century Canada, in particular French-English conflict and black-white inequalities, without reverting to blatant soapbox rhetoric. The cast of characters, populated mostly by journalists and the people they interact with, brings a wide range of perspectives to the narrative, the least conventional no doubt being that of a young correspondent from Cameroon who gently exposes and pokes fun at the curio ...more
Oct 13, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, historical
Mahatma Grafton is a newspaper reporter in Winnipeg following Canadiana news. Well written character driven story Some Great Thing by Lawrence Hill by Lawrence Hill is an interesting character portrait of life in Canada stories about french lanugage rights, welfare and politics. ...more
Janice Stonehouse
I must admit, that I truly loved The Book of Negroes, so perhaps that is why I had a difficult time with this book. I will give this one another try at a later date, and hopefully the second time around will be better. Plus I ended up in the hospital around this time and had a difficult time concentrating.
Sep 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Quirky characters set amidst the language debates that took place during the 80s in Winnipeg. Mahatma Grafton takes a job as a reporter for lack of any other job options. He soon meets an array of interesting folk and discovers a passion for writing the truth. My description cannot do justice to Hill's work. ...more
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
For a retired newspaper editor this book had some great humor, some great observation of our North American culture and the news gathering business, and some great discomfort knowing that there are journalists working who embarrass the profession. All in all, some great reading.
Paul Young
Dec 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Black newspaper reporter in Winnipeg. Easy read- good yarn.
Rachel Brown
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I love this book. The characters and plot were compelling. I got completely caught up in it
Sonia Haynes
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love Lawrence Hill's writing.
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful story, characters and writing. Takes place in Winnipeg and for a portion of the book the language tensions of the eighties serve as a backdrop. Loved this book.
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written, covering journalism at its best and worst, French-English controversy in Manitoba, and racial biases in Canada.
It's always neat reading a book that's set in the city you grew up in. A solid read. ...more
Tina Siegel
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe it took me so long to start reading Lawrence Hill. He's perceptive and smart and very, very funny, and I think 'Some Great Thing' might be my favourite book of his so far.

It revolves around a young reporter named Mahatma Grafton, who returns home to Winnipeg to write for a local newspaper. He gets caught up in the city's colourful personalities and unique history, which combine to lead him down unexpected personal and professional paths.

Without meaning to, Hat ends up writing ar
Oct 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mahatma Grafton, a university graduate, has returned to his home in Winnipeg to work as a journalist for a local newspaper. As he encounters various situations and talks to people from different walks of life, he comes to understand their point of view and their life’s situations. The Manitoba French language rights question is being debated. Jake, a man who is physically unable to work, continuously campaigns for fair treatment from the government and asking them to provide him with the necessi ...more
Jul 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So many themes; the French and English language tensions in Manitoba, the history of blacks in Canada and racial tensions, poverty, integrity of the press and what it takes to create a meaningful life, but all presented as part of this engaging story without any sense of preaching. I was immediately captured by all the different characters and wanted to see where their lives took them. I particularly adored the Cameroonian 'Yoyo' whose fascination with Canada and all its quirks was a highlight f ...more
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Hill is the author of ten books of fiction and non-fiction. In 2005, he won his first literary honour: a National Magazine Award for the article “Is Africa’s Pain Black America’s Burden?” published in The Walrus. His first two novels were Some Great Thing and Any Known Blood, and his first non-fiction work to attract national attention was the memoir Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and Wh ...more

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