Every year, the City of Toronto awards one book its top honour: the Toronto Book Award. Longtime residents may remember the plaques inset in the sidewalk near Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue that listed many of the previous winners. Now the winners are immortalized in The Toronto Book Garden, in front of Queen’s Quay Terminal with paving stones inset in a similar manner as the old Queen Street plaques.
The unique aspect of the Toronto Book Award is the fact that unlike the vast majority of literary awards, it accepts books in any genre. As long as they have a connection to the city, in terms of plot, setting, otherwise, they are eligible. This makes for an interesting competition where poetry, fiction, nonfiction, political and historical writing, memoir, and more all vie against one another.
This year's jury, which includes Former TIFA director Geoffrey E. Taylor, Christine Miskonoodinkwe Smith, Andy Stanleigh, Angela Wright, and Sanchari Sur, selected the 2021 longlist from 93 submissions, which represented an all-time high. The shortlist will be announced in August and the final, $10,000 winner will be announced in Fall 2021.
The 2021 longlist features a strong presence of independent publishers, including Biblioasis, Invisible Publishing, Wolsak & Wynn, and Red Deer Press.
The 2021 Toronto Book Award longlist:
- Missing From the Village by Justin Ling (Penguin/Random House)
- Saga Boy: My Life of Blackness and Becoming by Antonio Michael Downing (Penguin/Random House)
- Crosshairs by Catherine Hernandez (Simon & Schuster)
- Æther: An Out-of-Body Lyric by Catherine Graham (Wolsak & Wynn)
- Swimmers in Winter by Faye Guenther (Invisible Publishing)
- On Property by Rinaldo Walcott (Biblioasis)
- Speak, Silence by Kim Echlin (Penguin/Random House)
- Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin (Harper Collins Canada)
- The Good Fight by Ted Staunton, illustrated by Josh Rosen (Scholastic Canada)
- Unravel by Sharon Jennings (Red Deer Press)
For more information, visit the Toronto Book Award website.