Ideas

Acclaimed author Esi Edugyan to deliver 2021 Massey Lectures on art and race

Two-time Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Esi Edugyan's lecture series will explore the relationship between art and race through the lens of visual art, literature, film and her own lived experience.

Edugyan's lecture Out of the Sun will highlight contemporary Black artists

Acclaimed Canadian novelist Esi Edugyan will deliver this year's Massey Lectures later this fall. (Tamara Poppitt, Alysia Shewchuk/House of Anansi Press)

Bestselling and acclaimed Canadian author Esi Edugyan will deliver this year's CBC Massey Lectures later this month, exploring the relationship between art and race.

Through the lens of visual art, literature, film, as well as Edugyan's own lived experience, her upcoming lecture series, also published as a book by House of Anansi Press, will examine the depiction of Black histories in works of the imagination, while challenging accepted versions of the Black experience with new perspectives.

"This year has seen incredible upheaval and unrest, and a widespread conversation about race, which has been long overdue," Edugyan said. "This is a book about where we find ourselves in the moment, but it's also about who we've been and hope to be."

Edugyan's 2021 CBC Massey Lectures, Out of the Sun: On Race and Storytelling, will be broadcast starting Monday, Jan. 24 on CBC Radio One's IDEAS, and will be available online through CBC Listen

The cover of Out of the Sun features a painting called Yoked by Colorado-based artist Ron Hicks. He is among a number of contemporary Black artists Edugyan will highlight in her lectures.

Born in Calgary, Edugyan is a two-time Scotiabank Giller Prize winner. First, for her 2011 novel, Half-Blood Blues, which centres on the disappearance of a young Black German jazz musician at the hands of the Nazis in occupied France. 

She won again in 2018 for Washington Black, an epic work of historical fiction, which examines race and identity. Both books were also finalists for the Booker Prize.

'I can see myself in that boy:' Esi Edugyan on her Washington Black hero

4 years ago
Duration 1:16
The author on how she relates to the 11-year-old protagonist, who escapes life as a field slave in the cane fields of Barbados.

The CBC Massey Lectures is a partnership between CBC, House of Anansi Press and Massey College at the University of Toronto. For the last six decades, it has provided a forum where contemporary thinkers can explore important issues of the time, including modern capitalism, the Indigenous experience and imagination, and the impact of debt on human societies. 

Previous Massey lecturers include Martin Luther King, Jr., Noam Chomsky, Tanya Talaga and Margaret Atwood.


For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

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