Wayne Grady is the award-winning author of more than a dozen works of nonfiction and is one of Canada’s top literary translators. His debut novel, Emancipation Day, won the 2013 Amazon.ca First Novel Award and was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Grady lives in Kingston, Ontario with his wife, novelist and creative nonfiction writer Merilyn Simonds. His website is www.waynegrady.ca

New from Amazon.ca First Novel Award Winner 2013

Wayne Grady

Up From Freedom

As a young man, Virgil Moody vowed he would never be like his father, he would never own slaves. When he moves from his father’s plantation in Savannah to New Orleans, he takes with him Annie, a tiny woman with sharp eyes and a sharper tongue, who he is sure would not survive life on the plantation. She’ll be much safer with him, away from his father’s cruelty. And when he discovers Annie’s pregnancy, already a few months along, he is all the more certain that he made the right decision.

As the years pass, the divide between Moody’s assumptions and Annie’s reality widens ever further. Moody even comes to think of Annie as his wife and Lucas as their son. Of course, they are not. As Annie reminds him, in moments of anger, she and Moody will never be equal. When their “family” breaks apart in the most brutal and tragic way, and Lucas flees the only life he’s ever known, Moody must ask himself whether he has become the man he never wanted to be—but is he willing to hear the answer?

Stretching from the war-torn banks of the Rio Brazos in Texas to the muddy waters of Freedom, Indiana, Moody travels through a country on the brink of civil war, relentlessly searching for Lucas and slowly reconciling his past sins with his hopes for the future. When he meets Tamsey, a former slave, and her family trying to escape the reach of the Fugitive Slave Act, Moody sees an opportunity for redemption. But the world is on the cusp of momentous change, and though some things may be forgotten, nothing is ever really forgiven.

Wayne Grady is the award-winning author of more than a dozen works of nonfiction and is one of Canada’s top literary translators. His debut novel, Emancipation Day, won the 2013 Amazon.ca First Novel Award and was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Grady lives in Kingston, Ontario with his wife, novelist and creative nonfiction writer Merilyn Simonds. His website is www.waynegrady.ca

Up from Freedom by Wayne Grady

368 pages | Doubleday Canada | 9780385685139

On sale date: August 14, 2018 | $16.95 (US)/$23.00 (Can) paperback original

Also available as an ebook and Audiobook (read by Matt Godfrey)

Praise for Up From Freedom

“Powerful. . . . Forgiveness is not easy, nor is the story that Grady tells. . . . But at a time when racism and violence is still tearing at America—and Canada—it is a timely story that sheds light on how far we have and have not come. . . . [Up From Freedom] is a deeply layered story well told.”

Toronto Star

Up From Freedom is an exceptional novel, and one that I expect will be widely read both in Canada and the United States, and around the world….Up From Freedom brings all of [Grady’s] skill as a writer to the page, and his story is one you will not forget.”

Waterloo Chronicle 

Up From Freedom pulls history from fiction and fiction from history in a way we very much need in these troubled, ever-evolving times. Focusing on the issues of race and self-identity on a continent built by whites on the backs of blacks forcibly removed from their continent, it examines not only the clash of two colors but the inevitable blending of them and its far-reaching and profound implications.”

—Wayne Johnston, author of the nationally bestselling Son of a Certain Woman

“I was seduced into this story, into a search for redemption that opened up into a rich, complex world and a wonderful narrative of a man at the crossroads of change. Grady’s full-realized characters left always wanting to know more.”

— Philip Akin, Artistic Director of Obsidian Theatre Company

“An arresting novel that wisely, compassionately, and movingly brings to vivid life a cast of characters struggling in the snares of slavery and racism. It is a rare achievement, a novel that is both timely and timeless, a book that locates conscience and hope at the very centre of human existence.”

–Guy Vanderhaeghe, author of The Englishman’s Boy and A Good Man 

“Wayne Grady writes with such careful devotion to history and human character that the private conflicts in this story perfectly expose the racial tumult of the 1840s in America. His language is forthright; his point of view unsparing; and he guides us through the landscape of slavery by walking just ahead of it and holding up a mirror.”

–Linda Spalding, author of The Purchase and A Reckoning

“From its powerful opening scene, to its poignant finale, Up From Freedom captures both the heart and the intellect of the reader. Grady’s creation is a bright star in the literary universe. A wonderful and important achievement.”

–Jane Urquhart, author of The Stone Carvers

Wayne Grady on tour

Creemore – Words in the Woods Festival (Sept 8)

Toronto – Word on the Street (Sept 23)

Grimsby – Authors Series (Sept 24)

Toronto – Bonnie Stern Book Club (Sept 25)

Uxbridge – Celebration of the Arts (Sept 27)

Kingston – Writers Festival (Sept 28)

Picton – Books & Company (Oct 4)

Calgary – WordFest (Oct 9)

Whistler – Writers Festival (Oct 12-14)

Vancouver – International Writers Festival (Oct 16)

Toronto – IFOA (Oct 20)

Parry Sound – Parry Sound Books (Oct 24)

Ottawa – Writers Festival (Oct 28)


“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

“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. This novel is unforgettable.”

~ Lisa Moore, author of February and Caught

“Wayne Grady has created character out of life, out of love, out of recognition and sympathy. They are not to be missed.”

~ Linda Spalding, author of The Purchase

“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

“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

“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.”

“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

Awards and Honours

Longlisted for the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize

A Globe and Mail “Globe 100”Best Book 2013

Winner:  Amazon.ca First Novel Award

Longlisted for the CBA Libris Award for Fiction Book of the Year

A Chatelaine Book Club pick