The Next Chapter

Wayne Grady's novel examines father-daughter relationships in his new novel The Good Father

The Ontario author spoke with Shelagh Rogers about his latest novel.
The Good Father is a book by Wayne Grady. (Doubleday Canada, Gerry Kingsley)

Wayne Grady's latest novel The Good Father is about a divorced man named Harry and his daughter, Daphne. Harry is living a quiet life in Toronto with his second wife, while Daphne is a volatile teenager growing up in Vancouver.

When a terrible event takes place, both Harry and Daphne are forced to re-examine their lives, and their relationship to each other.

Grady is a writer and translator from Kingston, Ont. His other books include the nonfiction books The Quiet Limit of the World, Bringing Back the Dodo and Tree: A Life Story, which was co-written with David Suzuki, and the novels Emancipation Day and Up From Freedom. 

Grady spoke with Shelagh Rogers about writing The Good Father.

Fathers and daughters

"I have two daughters. I've been thinking about the father-daughter relationship for a long time. They're both in their 30s and 40s now. The degree to which a father has influence over the daughter's sense of herself and self-esteem made me think about what role I played in my daughter's lives after I left the family.

I've been thinking about the father-daughter relationship for a long time.

"I stayed in close contact with them, but I didn't understand at the time what kind of effect that would have on daughters. 

"I'm thinking more generally about fathers and daughters. The novel is not autobiographical in that sense."

Wayne Grady on exploring race, identity and family history in his novel Up from Freedom, set in the United States in the mid-1800s. 15:39

Emotionally distant

"Traditionally men have a lot of difficulty talking about emotions and describing their emotions. And most men think they only have one emotion, and that's anger. 

"Harry, without any evidence and without any talking about it, thinks he and Daphne have a terrific relationship as she's growing up. He's gobsmacked at her reaction to him when she's older and she gets angry with him.

Traditionally men have a lot of difficulty talking about emotions and describing their emotions.

"He has no idea where that's coming from. He thinks he's been a good father. Coming to terms with her reaction is very difficult for him."

Wayne Grady's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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