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One Book One Community

Celebrating its 16th year, the One Book, One Community of Waterloo Region has announced its 2017 reading selection. All of Waterloo Region will be on the same page reading ...


Emancipation Day, by Wayne Grady

Emancipation Day
Wayne Grady

About the Book

This is the story of a young black jazz musician who joins the navy during the Second World War, lying about his age to escape his family in Windsor.

Jack is born to an African-Canadian family, and tries everything he can to disassociate himself from this fact. While stationed in St. John's, Newfoundland, Jack meets Vivian and they eventually marry. Wanting to leave Newfoundland and see the world, Vivian is anxious to go to Jack’s home in Windsor and meet his family. Vivian soon finds out that Jack has painted a family and a life back in Windsor that is not what it seems. Jack’s father is also mysteriously absent when it comes time for Vivian to meet him.

Why has Jack tried so hard to remove himself from his family? Spanning pre- and post-war eras, Wayne Grady's novel examines family secrets, race relations and historical events that allow the reader to realize a unique perspective of identity, and sense of belonging, from a Canadian point of view.

About the Author

An award winning non-fiction writer, Wayne Grady has written 14 books of science and natural history. He has also translated 14 works of fiction from French and co-wrote the international best seller Tree: A Life Story, with David Suzuki. Born in Windsor, Ontario, and a graduate of Carleton University with a First Class Honors BA in English, Wayne Grady has written non-fiction, short stories, translations, edited countless anthologies and most recently written his first novel, Emancipation Day. Currently, Mr. Grady teaches creative writing for the MFA Program at the University of British Columbia. He is married to author Merilyn Simonds and resides near Kingston, Ontario.

Author Website:

Selected Awards

Emancipation Day

  • 2013: Longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize
  • 2013:Winner of the First Novel Award
  • 2013: Named one of the best Canadian fiction books by the Globe & Mail

Other Accolades

  • 2009 / 2010: Chair of the Writer's Union of Canada
  • 1989: Winner of the Governer-General's Award for Translation

Author Interviews

Author Events and Related Programs

You’ve read the book, now meet the author!

Author appearances by Wayne Grady

Tuesday September 26th, 7:00 pm
Central Library

Available Formats

This year's One Book, One Community reading selection is available in the following formats:

Reserve your copy today!


Title Readalikes

About the One Book, One Community Program

One Book, One Community (OBOC) was created to promote reading by adults, and to build new connections in the community through the shared experience of reading.

In 2002, when One Book, One Community was launched, organizers expected that 1% of the Region’s population would read Alistair McLeod’s No Great Mischief. Instead of the expected 4000 readers, more than 6800 readers were counted and an additional 3000 people attended author events.

By tracking sales, library circulations, web hits and event attendance, the committee has recorded that more than 100,000 people in Waterloo Region have participated in the program. Interest in the reading program has continued over the previous nine years with selections continuing to generate interest in libraries, bookstores, workplaces and book club gatherings.

Organized by library staff, booksellers, city staff and volunteers, the program requires a year round commitment. After the book title is announced, individuals, book clubs, organizations, employers – everyone – is invited to take up the challenge of the One Book, One Community initiative and organize their own way of "getting on the same page."

Author events will take place around the region, including an author visit to Kitchener Public Library. Watch our website or that of the Waterloo Region Record for author event dates and notices of community events as they develop. You may also check out the One Book, One Community website at

Keep up with all the latest news by following @oboc_kw on Twitter. 

Readers and event participants will be counted again this year, so be sure to participate and to let the community know how you got involved.


Previous Selections

Amanda Lindhout
Emily St. John Mandel
Charlotte Gray
Richard Wagamese
Louise Penny
Terry Fallis
Lawrence Hill
Alisa Smith & J.B....
Elizabeth Ruth
Joseph Boyden
Robert J. Sawyer
Nino Ricci
Jane Urquhart
Alistair MacLeod