Wayne Grady always thought he was Irish: that was the family story. Then, 20 years ago, while killing time in a Windsor library as his wife, Merilyn Simonds, concluded some Convict Lover research, he decided to look up his family in the census.
He wasn’t Irish; he was African American. His white-skinned father was black.
Emancipation Day, Wayne’s first novel and winner of the Amazon.ca First Novel award, tells the fictionalized story of his father’s passing from black to white through the portals of war and big-band music.
“A haunting, memorable, believable portrait of a man so desperate to deny his heritage that he imperils his very soul,” says Lawrence Hill, author of The Book of Negroes.
Wayne is a prolific writer with an arsenal of hats: translator, journalist, editor, creative writing instructor at the University of British Columbia. With 40 books to his credit, there doesn’t seem to be anything he can’t write or do.
Wayne has also translated 15 books, most recently, October 1970, by Louis Hamelin. He won a Governor General’s Award for his translation of Antonine Maillet’s On the Eighth Day.
Wayne lives in Athens, Ontario, with his wife, novelist Merilyn Simonds. Together, they co-wrote Breakfast at the Exit Café about their travels in America.
Photo Credit: Bernard Clark