Saturday, July 30, 2022

Spotlight of Finding Edward by Sheila Murray



Sheila Murray’s powerful debut novel, FINDING EDWARD takes readers inside the similar lives of two men separated by a generation.
Told in two powerful interlocking narratives: the stories of Cyril and Edward, young Black men living in Toronto in different eras.
Cyril, a recent immigrant from Jamaica, finds a suitcase full of letters and photos that tell the story of a young, white mother struggling to come to terms with giving up her mixed-race baby almost one hundred years earlier. 
Cyril is also the product of an interracial relationship and becomes determined to find out what happened to the baby, whose name was Edward.
Cormorant Books - July 19, 2022


“A remarkable novel. In this, her first, Sheila Murray has created a haunting allegory ... This novel is a great achievement; it reminds us that the surmountable obstacles facing us in any age are frequently unfounded and misinformed prejudices.”— Rachel Manley, author of the Governor General’s Literary Award-winning Drumblair
“In lucid, scintillating prose, suffused with mystery and everyday magic, Sheila Murray delivers one of the most penetrating dramas of Black experience ... This beautiful, necessary novel will become a touchstone.”— Donna Bailey Nurse 



In 2012, Cyril Rowntree, a recent immigrant from Jamaica, has come to the city following the deaths of both his mother and his adopted grandfather, Nelson.

Nelson was also his mother’s employer, and his small bequest to Cyril has made the journey to Canada possible. Though his extended family encouraged him to leave Jamaica, he himself is initially ambivalent about the journey. 

Upon his arrival, Cyril enrolls in university to earn his degree, working two jobs to support himself as he attempts to acclimate, even as he reels from his mother’s death.

A chance encounter leads him to a suitcase full of photographs and letters dating back to the early 1920s. 

The letters tell the story of a young, unmarried white mother struggling to come to terms with giving up her mixed-race baby, the novel’s eponymous Edward. 

Cyril, who is himself the product of an interracial relationship and was abandoned by his white father when he was only two, finds himself drawn to Edward and sets out to discover what became of him. 

Along the way, the legacies of the two people he loved most travel with him — his uneducated, God-fearing mother’s gift of sight through distance and time, and the forbearance taught to him by the sophisticated Nelson. 

Unraveling the mystery of Edward, and what happened to him after  he was surrendered to a children’s home shortly after the turn of the 20th century, provides Cyril with a grounding force, a way to explore his own contemporary racial experience and come to terms with his new life.

As he searches, he finds fragments of Edward’s hard, itinerant life, and discovers pieces of Canada’s Black history, which help him gain the confidence to take on his new world.

When his research leads him to the realization that Edward might still be alive, he is determined to find the man who has existed so vividly on the page and return to him a vital piece of his story.




Sheila Murray worked on the novel in part while on a family holiday in Jamaica, where she has spent considerable amounts of time in Brown’s Town for many years.

Born in St. Alban’s, England, she migrated to Toronto with her family as a teenager and was one of only three Black people at her very large high school, a circumstance that made her acutely aware of the racial tension woven into the fabric of society.
A longtime advocate for social justice, Murray has a master’s degree in Immigrant and Settlement Studies and wrote FINDING EDWARD in part to explore how these racial tensions manifest in outlying communities of newcomers, as they did for her and as they do in the book, for Cyril.
Weaving together the stories of Edward and Cyril, two men alike in circumstance if not in destiny, Murray has created a novel that grapples with our racial history while giving it important historical context.

Sheila Murray’s short fiction has been published in various literary journals, including Descant, the Dalhousie Review, and the New Quarterly.
Murray is an advocate for social justice and climate change response and currently works as project director with CREW (Community Resilience to Extreme Weather). She was born in St. Alban’s, England, and now lives in Hamilton, Ontario.


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