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Discussing Disorientation

Presented by the AGO on September 28, Giller Prize-winning author Ian Williams talks about his new collection of essays, Disorientation: Being Black in the World, with bestselling author and activist Desmond Cole.

Cover art of Ian William's book "Disorientation: Being Black in the World', a black background with white squiggly lines horizontal across the cover, with the book title and author name in white text.

Image courtesy of Penguin Random House

Giller Prize-winning author Ian Williams has written a brand new collection of essays titled Disorientation: Being Black in the World. Drawn from his own lived experiences, Williams’s essays uniquely frame the complexities of Black life, unpacking various obstacles, milestones and collective understandings that exist within the Black community. On Tuesday, September 28, he will be joined by journalist, activist and author Desmond Cole for a conversation about the book, presented by the AGO. 

In Disorientation: Being Black in the World Williams explores a diverse range of topics, including the ten characteristics of institutional whiteness; the various meanings and uses of a Black person's smile; the unmistakable moment when a child realizes they are Black; and how friendships can help form a defence against being a target of racism. Williams’s initial idea for the book was sparked by 2020’s wide-spread protests in support of Black lives, and the realization that his time living in Trinidad, Canada and the USA afforded him a distinct perspective on these events. Largely inspired by the essays of James Baldwin, with this collection Williams uses personal stories to connect to larger ideas, inviting multiracial audiences to rethink their ideas of blackness and how it functions in the world.    

Born in Trinidad and raised in Canada, Ian Williams is an award-winning author and recipient of the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his first novel, Reproduction. His poetry collection, Personals, was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize and the Robert Kroetsch Poetry Book Award. His short story collection, Not Anyone's Anything, won the Danuta Gleed Literary Award for the best first collection of short fiction in Canada. His first book, You Know Who You Are, was a finalist for the ReLit Poetry Prize. He is currently a tenured professor in the English department at the University of Toronto. 

Journalist, activist and author Desmond Cole has spent the last decade reporting and commenting on politics and social justice, with a special focus on the struggle for Black liberation in Canada. His work includes ten years of local and national news coverage, five years of radio broadcasting at Newstalk 1010, and an opinion column with the Toronto Star. He is the author of the number one national bestseller The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power – a book we connected with Cole to chat about in January 2020

Don’t miss Ian Williams and Desmond Cole in conversation Tuesday, September 28 at 7 pm. This is a free virtual event. Register here.

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