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“Grady guides us through the landscape of slavery by walking just ahead of it and holding up a mirror.”

I am the son of an African-Canadian father who passed for white, a fact that I didn’t discover until I was in my late forties. Since then, I have written two novels dealing with issues of identity and race. Emancipation Day, in which Jack Lewis, a black man who has passed for white, marries a white woman without telling her about his black heritage. And most recently Up From Freedom, which imagines the journey of my great-great-great-grandmother, Thomasina Grady, from slavery in the Deep South to a form of freedom in the North. Emancipation Day was longlisted for the Scotiabank-Giller Prize, and won the First Novel Award.

I have also written fourteen books of nonfiction, including The Quiet Limit of the World, one of the first books about global warming; The Bone Museum, which traces the evolution of dinosaurs into birds; and Tree: A Life Story, which I co-authored with David Suzuki and has been published around the world. I have also translated fifteen novels from French into English; I won the Governor-General’s Award for my translation of Antonine Maillet’s On the Eighth Day, and this year released The Accidental Education of Jerome Lupien, by Yves Beauchemin.