Presented to the Calgary Women’s Literary Club by Marcia Century March 22, 2022
Born in Calgary in 1978 to Ghanaian immigrants, Esi Edugyan is a highly acclaimed Canadian author who has published three works of fiction and two works of nonfiction. Among her many awards, she has received the Scotiabank Giller Prize twice and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Award.
Her presentation of the Massey lectures in 2021 was published as Out of the Sun and her presentation of the Henry Kreisel Lecture Series in 2014 was published as Dreaming of Elsewhere. In my opinion, the success of these nonfiction works—addressing themes of home, belonging and the effects of race on art and literature—elevated Esi to global stature as a literary intellectual. Her analysis of race and identity in literature and art have, I believe, opened up new directions for future generations of writers.
In her acclaimed novels The Second Life of Samuel Tyne, Half-Blood Blues, and Washington Black, she explores little-known aspects of history—especially the lives of marginalized Black communities. I found it fascinating that Esi has called herself a meticulous “footnote person,” diving deep into the minutiae to find overlooked factual stories.
Esi Edugyan lives in Victoria, British Columbia, and is married to Steven Price—her one-time classmate at the University of Victoria—who is now a highly regarded poet and novelist in his own right. Early in their marriage, she and Steven lived in downtown Victoria but once they had two children—a girl and a boy—they moved to the city of Colwood where Steven’s grandfather had started a locksmith business, and now live in his old family home. They work collaboratively from their home offices with their doors left wide open because, as Steven once drily noted, “a closed door is an invitation.”
Works of Esi Edugyan
The Second Life of Samuel Tyne. Alfred A. Knopf, 2004.
Half-Blood Blues. Thomas Allen, 2011.
Dreaming of Elsewhere: Observations on Home. University of Alberta Press, 2014.
Washington Black. Serpent’s Tail, 2019.
Out of the Sun: On Race and Storytelling. House of Anansi, 2021.
University of Victoria (BA)
Johns Hopkins University (MA)
“The Esi Edugyan Story According to Google,” by Ian Williams. Macleans.
September 22, 2021
“Esi Edugyan Talks About Writing Fiction,” by Pauline Holdstock. Focus on Victoria, June 27, 2020.
“At Home with Writers Esi Edugyan and Steven Price,” by Sean McIntyre, Surrey Now-Reader. Sep. 6, 2018.