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Up From Freedom

“In the best tradition of Toni Morrison and Colson Whitehead, Grady brings home the truth that there are no simplistic ways to combat and overcome deep-rooted hate and feat.”

ISBN: 9780385685115
Published by: Doubleday Canada
Publication date: August 14, 2018

To Purchase:

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Up From Freedom, set in the U.S. from 1848 to 1850, traces the journeys of its two main characters: Virgil Moody, the white son of a Georgia plantation owner who thinks he has disavowed slavery; and Tamsey Lewis, based on my great-great-great-grandmother, Thomasina Grady. Tamsey is a freed slave trying to make her way to Canada. Their separate journeys intersect in Indiana, the year the Fugitive Slave Act is passed, when both Moody and Tamsey realize that freedom is relative, and doesn’t mean much unless it comes with safety and trust.

Up From Freedom is novel about guilt, both individual (Moody’s) and collective (a country built on the backs of slaves), and the difficulty of being good in an evil system. It takes place in the overlaps between transitional states of being, starting in Texas, between the U.S. and Mexico, and ends in Indiana, a buffer zone between slavery in the South and the promise of freedom in the North. America was trying to transition from an agricultural to a mechanical age, from an Atlantic coast culture to a western expansionist age, and from a slave culture to one in which slavery is seen for what it always was. Transitional states are always volatile and fraught; we know this because we’re in a similar state today.


 

Review quotes of Up From Freedom:

 

“In the best tradition of Toni Morrison and Colson Whitehead, Grady brings home the truth that there are no simplistic ways to combat and overcome deep-rooted hate and feat.”

~ Shoba Viswanathan, Booklist

 

“A resolute sadness permeates Up from Freedom as it tries to encapsulate a dark period in American history….Reading it resonates with a contemporary world in which prejudice and violence never seem all that far away.”

~ Piali Roy, Quill & Quire 

 

“…an exceptional novel that I expect will be widely read both in Canada and the United States, and around the world.”

~ Charlotte Stein, Waterloo Region Record 

 

For readers of Colson Whitehead, James McBride, Yaa Gyasi and Lawrence Hill, Up From Freedom is a powerful and emotional novel about the dangers that arise when we stay silent in the face of prejudice or are complicit in its development.”

CBC Books 

 

“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.”

~ Dene Moore, Toronto Star

 

Despite the fact that Up from Freedom takes place in the 1850s with its roots embedded in one family’s history, the novel feels contemporary given how deeply implanted issues surrounding self-identity, racism, allyship and privilege remain today.”

~ Sue Carter, Toronto Star 

 

“[Up From Freedom] is deft, engaging, and laden with well-researched history…thoroughly provocative—especially with racism and ensuing violence so much in the news these days. Kudos to Wayne Grady for hitting it out of the park.”

Shelley Macbeth, 49th Shelf

 


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 are 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.” —Dene Moore, 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.” —Charlotte Steinm Waterloo Region Record 

“This is a moving and eye-opening reminder of history’s deep scars. In the best tradition of Toni Morrison and Colson Whitehead, Grady brings home the truth that there are no simplistic ways to combat and overcome deep-rooted hate and fear.” —Booklist, starred review 

“Harrowing . . . [and] meticulously researched. . . . What does it mean to ‘own’ somebody? How much harm and violence are caused by that notion? What is ‘freedom’? What is ‘redemption’? Deep dives into the unsettling and murky past of one family.” —Margaret Atwood 

“In Up From Freedom, Wayne Grady has written an arresting novel about the United States bustling into the age of steam as it also drifts helplessly towards a catastrophic civil war. It is a novel that wisely, compassionately and movingly brings to vivid life a cast of characters, black and white, 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 center of human existence.” —Guy Vanderhaeghe, author of The Englishman’s BoyThe Last Crossing and A Good Man 

“Wayne Grady’s 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. The subject matter of the book comes to life on the printed page in this inter-generational, inter-racial book by way of a riveting narrative and a cast of complex, appealing characters. Up From Freedom is an important and engaging book.” —Wayne Johnston, author of the nationally bestselling Son of a Certain Woman

“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 1830s 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 Freedomcaptures 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

“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 fully-realized characters left me always wanting to know more.” —Philip Akin, Artistic Director of Obsidian Theatre Company


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