Last Wednesday, May 1, was the last night of the spring 2019 Grimsby Author Series and we were thrilled and honoured to bring to our stage two-time Scotia Bank Giller Prize winner Esi Edugyan. We couldn’t think of a better way to finish the season, and as guests rushed in the doors, met up with friends and grabbed a sample glass of Pengo Pally Saison Beer from Bush Pilot Craft Brewery, we knew it was going to be a night to remember.
This event saw our guest author Esi Edugyan sitting down in conversation with Grimsby’s own local author Laurie Petrou, which is a bit of different format than what we are used to at the Series. From the moment these two authors sat down across from each other it was clear this discussion was going to allow us to dig a little deeper than usual. In responding to Laurie’s thoughtful questions and keen insights, Esi provided us with an in-depth glimpse into how her Giller Prize winning book Washington Black was written and how it feels to be nationally recognized twice for the most prestigious literary fiction award in Canada.
We discovered Esi’s love of research and interest in historical science, practices and instruments, and how this shows up in the beautiful details of her books. We learned that Washington Black, while directly dealing with topics of racism and subjugation, is really a story of the psychology of the people experiencing it, from either side, and the real human consequences when massive societal change alter the rules. We heard about how she felt about her main characters, and what she was trying to convey to the reader with the choices they make or the questions they ask. Esi’s writing style is deeply engrossing and the way she explores these weighty topics leaves the reader with a important and unique perspective. Capped off with a reading from the book and many questions from the audience, this evening was truly special and a perfect end to the spring Grimsby Author Series.
Thanks so much to both authors for visiting the Series and having this wonderful discussion with us, and to Esi for sharing her book and staying afterwards to sign copies for eager fans. Door prizes were raffled off at the end of the night which included fabulous items from our sponsors Cole’s Florists, Objects to Desire, Stacy Heidman of Steeped Tea, Elipsis Day Spa, Special Effects Art Shoppe, Theatre Aquarius, and Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. A big thank you to all of these contributors, and to The Peanut Mill, tMac Pottery and Bush Pilot Craft Brewery for providing our guest speakers with their wonderful gifts, and to Epic Books of Hamilton for coming to sell books!