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By Wayne Grady

“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

“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_Emancipation Day

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.

“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 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 

Emancipation Day is an engaging look at when and where true co-existence and polite tolerance dissolve into prejudice and power struggle.”
The Globe and Mail

“Those whose genealogy searches have turned up racially different ancestors may be surprised at how this novel’s profound theme of racial identity dredges up feelings that are more than skin deep.”
Toronto Star

“It’s a novel of ideas that succeeds precisely because it’s also a good story.”
Winnipeg Free Press


Doubleday Canada, July 2013


Longlisted for the 2013 Giller Prize

Indigo Books ‘Heather’s Pick’ No. 2 book of the month for July 2013

Chatelaine Magazine Book Club Pick for September 2013

One of’s Best Books of 2013

A Globe & Mail Best Book of 2013

WINNER of the First Novel Award

Shortlisted for the 2014 Libris Award for Fiction Book of the Year