- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday Canada (Aug. 14 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385685114
- ISBN-13: 978-0385685115
- Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.4 x 22.8 cm
- Shipping Weight: 481 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #85,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Up From Freedom Paperback – Deckle Edge, Aug 14 2018
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"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
"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 Boy, The 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 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
"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
About the Author
WAYNE GRADY is the award-winning author of more than a dozen works of nonfiction and is also 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, the novelist and creative nonfiction writer, Merilyn Simonds.
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And that’s taken, like not buying or even asking for permission, taken as in ‘freeing. You see Moody is the son of a slaver, and despite his best intentions, he couldn’t completely avoid the sordid business of enslaving human beings. This novel is skilled at asking the tough questions and presenting the uneasy choices, forcing the reader to engage beyond the level of entertainment. Moody is a man of convictions and contradictions, I suppose no different than most human beings. Despite his abhorrence for slavery he fought on the side of Texas, when it was still a part of Mexico, knowing full well, Texas would become a slave state and it did.
He has always been ambivalent about his father’s plantation and was sullied about the association with slavery. He is drawn as an empathetic character but one who often fails to see how his own actions makes him complicit in the slavery operation. When he is afforded an opportunity to leave the Plantegenet plantation, he does and takes Annie with him along with her two-year-old son, Lucas. Moody treats Annie more as wife and Lucas as son, then bondsmen. This isn’t problematic in New Orleans, but when he moves to Texas, things change.
“In New Orleans, he and Annie had lived together openly in the Quarter, let anyone think what they would. They’d had to be more careful in Texas, where every white farmer was a slaveholder and no one felt compelled by Mexican law to give up their slaves. Polk’s war might have been about territory, but Texans were fighting for slavery. Slavery was their religion; the Mexican War had been a religious war. But within their own house, Moody had gone on thinking of Annie as his wife and Lucas as their son.”
He never knew how to exactly frame their arrangement, and Annie never pushed for any clarity on the issue. This left Moody perturbed, because he certainly didn’t want Annie to see him as “Massa” although essentially that is what he was to both Annie and Lucas. When Lucas wants to take up with Benah, a slave girl from a nearby plantation, Moody attempts to buy Benah in order to free her, but the mean Mr. Millican is dead set against that and counters with an offer to buy Lucas. Of course Moody quickly squashes that idea and tells Lucas there is nothing that can be done. Upon hearing this, Lucas storms out and Moody neglects to go after him, setting up his regret and search for Moody throughout the balance of the novel.
Moody’s disappearance is devastating for his mother Annie, and Moody broods over his mistake. His search for Lucas takes him to many places and puts him in strange situations. He spends some time with a Quaker woman in Tennessee, and hears some things that help challenge his mind on the way he handled Annie and Lucas; further on, he meets a former enslaved family that are free, but not paper free, And the precariousness of being Black during slave times is keenly felt by Grady’s writing. Because rather slave or free, you could be kidnapped and sold into slavery by the whim of any white man depending on their mood of any day.
“If slavery was to be defeated, religion would have to be defeated first. And that would have to be done by men and women of conscience.”
Moody, once again finds himself in a relationship with a free-not-free woman, Tamsey Lewis and this leads to some problems and challenges including a court case involving her son and his wife that would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. Mr. Grady keeps us guessing never letting the story become bland and predictable. Elements of this story are based in some of the author’s actual family history. Overall, a well done effort. It’s not easy to keep readers enthralled over territory that has been vastly explored in fiction but Wayne Grady does with minimal hiccups. He includes some challenging questions at the end of the book, which help you to reflect on what you’ve just read in a thoughtful manner. Thanks to Doubleday Canada and Netgalley for an advanced DRC. Book will drop on Aug.14, 2018.