2017 Toronto Book Awards
Finalists for the 2017 Toronto Book Awards are:
I Hear She’s a Real Bitch
Arsenal Pulp Press
B. Denham Jolly
In the Black: My Life
Life on the Ground Floor
Edited by Jane Farrow, John Lorinc, et al.
Any Other Way: How Toronto Got Queer
Coach House Books
What the judges said . . .
Jen Agg is one of Toronto’s gutsiest and most innovative restaurateurs, contributing to the city’s growing food culture. She is also, as this fine memoir illustrates, a wonderful writer with a unique voice, who can reveal the Scarborough of her youth in one chapter, and recreate the swift ballet of table service in another. Agg writes candidly about both her successes and failures in business, the unique challenges she faces as a woman in a predominantly male industry, and along the way she reveals her abundant love for her family and Toronto. This book crackles with heart, smarts, passion, and verve.
Rooted from within the worldview and place it portrays, Scarborough is an intimate portrait of a community with all its nuances and desires deftly captured. Through this novel, Hernandez invites us to engage in both the subtle and the sharp, the ordinary and the extraordinary; which, at its best, is what Toronto is all about. Brick by brick, life by life, Scarborough delivers an orchestral impact, one small, beautiful voice at a time.
Black rights activist and entrepreneur Denham Jolly should be a household name. With humour and colourful anecdotes, In the Black shines a light on many of the hurdles faced by immigrants trying to make a better life for themselves and their children. From politicians to community leaders, no punches are pulled as Jolly recounts the hurdles that littered his path to business, personal, and community success. In the Black recounts Jolly’s journey from a happy boyhood in Jamaica to business success in Toronto publishing Contrast and founding FLOW 93.5, Canada’s first Black-owned radio station.
Full of desperate immediacy and evocative prose, Life on the Ground Floor, gives us a glimpse into a lifetime of pragmatic compassion. Dr. Maskalyk has a gift for distilling a pivotal life moment into almost painful clarity, capturing heartbeats of intermingled triumph and tragedy from a career that spans decades and continents. His journey takes us from Toronto’s St. Michaels Hospital to makeshift theatres in Ethiopia, Sudan and beyond, each step full of deeply human moments and piquant details. Maskalyk conjures something of the all-consuming addiction of the work, and his personal struggle to keep some part of his identity separate from his career. It’s at times an emotionally challenging read, but one well worth finishing.
This is an extraordinary book, and one of the most important collections of writing by Torontonians ever published. Editors John Lorinc, Jane Farrow, Stephanie Chambers, Maureen FitzGerald, Tim McCaskell, Rebecka Sheffield, Tatum Taylor, Rahim Thawer, and Ed Jackson have assembled contributions from members of Toronto’s LGBTQ2S communities, who tell the stories of their lives, often in the face of ostracization, alienation, and abuse. It is impossible to come away from this book without realizing that Toronto is a better city – more human, empathetic, and accepting – because of the people in this book.
2017 Awards Ceremony
The 2017 Awards will be handed out October 12 at the Toronto Reference Library’s Bram and Bluma Appel Salon; the event is free but registration is required. Other free TBA events include Word On the Street (Harbourfront Centre, Sept. 24, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.) and a public reading at S. Walter Stewart Branch TPL (Oct. 3, 7 p.m.).