Emancipation Day

Paperback | July 30, 2013

byWayne Grady

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How far would a son go to belong? And how far would a father go to protect him?

With his curly black hair and his wicked grin, everyone swoons and thinks of Frank Sinatra when Navy musician Jackson Lewis takes the stage. It's World War II, and while stationed in St. John's, Newfoundland, Jack meets the well-heeled, romantic Vivian Clift, a local girl who has never stepped off the Rock and is desperate to see the world. They marry against Vivian's family's wishes--hard to say what it is, but there's something about Jack that they just don't like--and as the war draws to a close, the new couple travels to Windsor to meet Jack's family.

But when Vivian meets Jack's mother and brother, everything she thought she knew about her new husband gets called into question. They don't live in the dream home that Jack depicted, they all look different from one another--and different from anyone Vivian has ever seen--and after weeks of waiting to meet Jack's father, William Henry, he never materializes. 

Steeped in jazz and big-band music, spanning pre- and post-war Windsor-Detroit, St. John's, Newfoundland, and 1950s Toronto, this is an arresting, heartwrenching novel about fathers and sons, love and sacrifice, race relations and a time in our history when the world was on the cusp of momentous change.

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With so many fantastic Canadian stories being written every year, it takes a special kind of insight - and bravery - to stand out from the crowd. Wayne Grady does just that with this tender, troubling debut novel, a story of family, identity, and tragic self-deception. With an honest but sympathetic voice, Grady gives us the story of Jack a...

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How far would a son go to belong? And how far would a father go to protect him? With his curly black hair and his wicked grin, everyone swoons and thinks of Frank Sinatra when Navy musician Jackson Lewis takes the stage. It's World War II, and while stationed in St. John's, Newfoundland, Jack meets the well-heeled, romantic Vivian Clif...

WAYNE GRADY is the author of fourteen highly-acclaimed books, including Breakfast at the Exit Cafe, Bringing Back the Dodo, and The Bone Museum. He is also the translator of fifteen novels from the French, and the editor of eleven anthologies of literary fiction and nonfiction. His writing has appeared in literary magazines, as well as...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 9 × 6.28 × 0.91 inPublished:July 30, 2013Publisher:Doubleday CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385677669

ISBN - 13:9780385677660

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Editorial Reviews

Longlist - 2013 Scotiabank Giller PrizeAmazon.ca Editor’s Pick—July 2013“Grady’s novel reads with the velvety tempo of the jazz music of its day. Like a deft conductor, he seamlessly brings in his main characters’ voices in alternating chapters throughout the novel. . . . For Jack, the eternal dilemma is whether we can successfully carve out a future if we reject our past. The answer occupies a distinctly grey area, one Wayne Grady fearlessly explores to expose heated race relations and the masks we all assume.” —Chatelaine  “A stellar debut. This literary novel is set in the heart of the big-band era…. The music swings. So does the story. Though Grady portrays the complexities of race and racial politics, there's nothing overtly didactic here. It's a novel of ideas that succeeds precisely because it's also a good story.” —Winnipeg Free Press“It takes a careful writer to make science clear and engaging to the layperson, and here Grady uses his skills to keep his prose quiet, spacious and neat, showing us how his characters navigate racial politics without telling us what to think about it. . . . Emancipation Day is an engaging look at when and where true co-existence and polite tolerance dissolve into prejudice and power struggle. That’s a fully contemporary issue, and one that’s entirely Canadian.” —The Globe and Mail  “A masterwork of storytelling examining race relations, denial and misconceptions, and what they do to three generations of a Canadian family. Grady does not tie things up in a neat bundle for the reader here. Like life itself, Emancipation Day is gritty, messy, surprising and poignant. It is an unvarnished look at life in Canada in the middle of the last century and the profound influence our thoughts and actions have on the lives of others.” —Telegraph Journal“Grady—a skilled, careful and knowledgeable writer—does not miss a step. . . .[his] work is an absorbing, entertaining and informative look at love, marriage, men at war, family dynamics and, especially, race and racism in Canadian history.”—Literary Review of Canada"This finely wrought novel navigates the complexities of love, race, and loyalties of choice. With a deft hand, Grady convinces us that whatever appearances may suggest, nothing is ever black and white." —Vincent Lam, author of The Headmaster’s Wager and Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures“A haunting, memorable, believable portrait of a man so desperate to deny his heritage that he imperils his very soul.” —Lawrence Hill, author of The Book of Negroes “A brave book to challenge every reader's thinking on race, family, fear, and love. Profound and compelling.” —Annabel Lyon, author of The Golden Mean and The Sweet Girl “Wayne Grady’s masterful novel is a compelling story about secrets and shame, denial and self-discovery, racism, and love that goes deeper than skin deep. Grady shows how the ties of family bind and also set us free. This novel is unforgettable.” —Lisa Moore, author of Alligator “Wayne Grady has created characters out of life, out of love, out of recognition and sympathy. They are not to be missed."—Linda Spalding, author of The Purchase