'The General' author to visit Roxbury library

Minor Memorial Library in Roxbury will present a book discussion with Ramin Ganeshram, author, journalist, cook, and executive director of the Westport Historical Society, Sept. 21 at 5:30 p.m.

Ganeshram will discuss her recent book, “The General,” which is built on actual events and people.

The novel imagines the life of one of George Washington’s slaves, a man known as Hercules.

Ganeshram will discuss the writing of the book as well as the research she did that sheds new light on the actual man who was enslaved before seeking and winning his freedom, and the painting once held to have been a portrait of him.

In the novel, it is Philadelphia 1793, the site of the new nation’s capital. Hercules, President George Washington’s chef, is a fixture on the Philadelphia scene.

He is famous for both his culinary prowess and for ruling his kitchen like a commanding general. He has his run of the city and earns twice the salary of an average American workingman.

He wears beautiful clothes and attends the theater. But while valued by the Washingtons for his prowess in the kitchen and rewarded far over and above even white servants, Hercules is enslaved in a city where most black Americans are free.

Even while he masterfully manages his kitchen and the lives of those in and around it, Hercules harbors secrets- including the fact that he is learning to read and that he is involved in a dangerous affair with Thelma, a mixed-race woman, who, passing as white, works as a companion to the daughter of one of Philadelphia’s most prestigious families.

Eventually Hercules’ carefully crafted intrigues fall apart and he finds himself trapped by his circumstances and the will of George Washington.

Ganeshram is a veteran journalist who has written features for the New York Times and New York Newsday.

She specializes in writing about multicultural communities as a news reporter and about food from the perspective of history and culture.

A professionally trained chef, Ganeshram is the author of several cookbooks.

She is also a celebrated food columnist who has been awarded seven Society of Professional Journalist awards for her work and an IACP Cookbook of The Year Award.

For more information, call the South Street library at 860-350-2181.