Discussing their latest novels, the two award-winning writers explore the universal desire for improved circumstances and how they found inspiration in history and in characters who share an unbroken spirit.
Edugyan's latest novel Washington Black tells the story of an eleven-year-old field slave on a Barbados sugar plantation whose quest for freedom takes him on an odyssey from the Canadian Arctic to the muddy streets of London.
Edemariam's debut The Wife's Tale is both an intimate memoir of the author's grandmother Yetemegnu and vivid a portrait of Ethiopia. Told from the perspective and in the rich language of a woman at the heart of her community, we are drawn into her fight for justice and against her husband's imprisonment.
Peopled by a cast of richly drawn characters, from proud priests to emperors and empresses, Marxist revolutionaries to wartime double agents, this is a many-layered portrait of Ethiopia that challenges misconceptions about the country, as witnessed by an indomitable woman.
Esi Edugyan's novel Half Blood Blues won the Scotiabank Giller Prize and was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize. Washington Black is her third novel. Drawing on a history with profound implications for the present, the novel is teeming with life, powered by an irrepressible character who refuses to settle for an existence of enslavement.
Aida Edemariam is of dual Ethiopian and Canadian heritage. She grew up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and studied English literature at Oxford University and the University of Toronto. She has worked as a journalist in New York, Toronto and London, where she is currently a senior feature writer and editor for The Guardian. She is a recipient of a Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award for a work of non-fiction in progress.