A Celebration of the
2023 Toronto Book Awards

Monday, September 18,

6:30 – 9:00 p.m.

 

A Celebration of the
2023 Toronto Book Awards

Monday, September 18,

6:30 – 9:00 p.m.

 

 

The Arts & Letters Club, in partnership with the City of Toronto, welcomes and celebrates the shortlisted authors of the 2023 Toronto Book Awards. Please join us to participate in the excitement of meeting and hearing this year’s finalists talk about and read selections from their books.  Book signings will take place following the presentations.

The shortlist is:

  • Clara at the Door with a Revolver by Carolyn Whitzman (On Point Press)
  • Finding Edward by Sheila Murray (Cormorant)
  • Moving the Museum by Wanda Nanibush and Georgiana Uhlyarik (Goose Lane Editions)
  • Nomenclature by Dionne Brand (Penguin Random House)
  • Wild Fires by Sophie Jai (The Borough Press)

This event, which includes light refreshments, is open to the public at a cost of $20 plus taxes. Reservations can be made through Eventbrite.  Please reserve early since seating is limited.

ABOUT THE TORONTO BOOK AWARDS
Established by Toronto City Council in 1974, the Toronto Book Awards honours books of literary merit that are inspired by the city.  This year, the Toronto Book Awards received a record-breaking 105 submissions.  This is the second year the Arts & Letters Club is staging this preview event.

Reading selections from their books are:

Carolyn Whitzman Clara at the Door with a Revolver (On Point/UBC Press)

Jury Citation

Carolyn Whitzman did not set out to tell the story of Clara Ford when she began researching class structure in Parkdale during the mid-twentieth century. She discovered newspaper clippings about a Black woman who was accused of murdering a wealthy white man in the West-end neighbourhood. Bridging together coverage from the day with deep research and a page-turning narrative, not only does Whitzman’s book reveal this little-known incident in Toronto’s but it will also leave readers hungering for more of the city’s stories to be recast through a modern lens.

 

 

 

Sheila MurrayFinding Edward (Cormorant Books)

Jury Citation:

Following his mother’s death, a biracial Jamaican named Cyril Rowntree leaves his Caribbean home for the promise of a new life in “Foreign,” the unfamiliar environs of Toronto. There, Cyril tries to fit into his new surroundings, earn enough money for his studies, and somehow create a family and community in an unknown and often threatening environment. When he discovers a cache of letters from a mixed-race man in the 1920s, he determines to find out all he can about the mysterious individual named Edward. In her debut novel, Sheila Murray has created a sharp and incisive study of Black history in Canada, from the Toronto neighbourhood of The Ward in the early 20th century to the Atlantic Canadian community of Africville. Murray’s supple prose and confident storytelling make Cyril’s journey a fascinating and rewarding reading experience in a debut of uncommon power and pathos.

 

Wanda Nanibush and Geogina Uhlyarik (editors) Moving the Museum (Goose Lane Editions)

Jury Citation

Moving the Museum is revelatory. The book challenges and provokes readers to question and re-establish their relationships with Indigenous art by presenting new ways for museums to present and interact with Indigenous communities and artists. This book kicks the colonial gaze to the curb, insisting instead that museums and galleries radically shift what they’ve been doing and offers page after page enacting the potential of Indigenous art to empower, inspire, and create community. Wanda Nanibush has taken up her role as a steward of Indigenous art at Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario and uses it here to present deeply grounded and transformative Indigenous knowledge in an accessible way, while Georgiana Uhlyarik, and other AGO colleagues, offer support essential to enacting real change. Moving the Museum is an art book that is practical, radical, and necessary.

 

Dionne Brand, Nomenclature New and Collected Poems (Penguin Random House)

Jury Citation:

Nomenclature documents four decades of witness, rages, and survival, from global literary icon, Dionne Brand. The writer famously asks her students, does the world need this line? We, the jury, knew Toronto Book Award submissions were being measured against the pristine clarity of Dionne Brand’s necessary lines; defiant experiments from a legendary imagination at once ancestral and singular. The city of Toronto is given voice, character, an “I,” in this staggering inventory. Brand’s luminous oeuvre investigates cities,mapping beauty, language, coloniality, bloodshed, Black, Queer, gender identities and place, within a liberatory politic. Dionne Brand’s profound lines are exquisite blades which insist, disturb, confront, demand, without apology, our eardrums.

 

 

 

Sophie Jai, Wild Fires (The Borough Press)

Jury Citation:

When her mysteriously mute cousin dies, Cassandra returns home to Toronto for the funeral. The big house on Florence Street is packed with her mother, sisters, aunts, a single uncle, and too many memories and secrets to count. As the long, cold days pass, Cassandra excavates the corners of her memory and prods at the whirlwind women, trying to piece together the narrative of her family. Moving between Trinidad and Toronto, the past and the present, Jai sets her scenes precisely, and the tension leaps off the page. With thoughtful prose and absorbing characters, Sophie Jai’s stunning debut cements her career as one to watch.

Reading selections from their books are:Carolyn Whitzman Clara at the Door with a Revolver (On Point/UBC Press)

Jury Citation

Carolyn Whitzman did not set out to tell the story of Clara Ford when she began researching class structure in Parkdale during the mid-twentieth century. She discovered newspaper clippings about a Black woman who was accused of murdering a wealthy white man in the West-end neighbourhood. Bridging together coverage from the day with deep research and a page-turning narrative, not only does Whitzman’s book reveal this little-known incident in Toronto’s but it will also leave readers hungering for more of the city’s stories to be recast through a modern lens.

 

 

 

Sheila MurrayFinding Edward (Cormorant Books)

Jury Citation:

Following his mother’s death, a biracial Jamaican named Cyril Rowntree leaves his Caribbean home for the promise of a new life in “Foreign,” the unfamiliar environs of Toronto. There, Cyril tries to fit into his new surroundings, earn enough money for his studies, and somehow create a family and community in an unknown and often threatening environment. When he discovers a cache of letters from a mixed-race man in the 1920s, he determines to find out all he can about the mysterious individual named Edward. In her debut novel, Sheila Murray has created a sharp and incisive study of Black history in Canada, from the Toronto neighbourhood of The Ward in the early 20th century to the Atlantic Canadian community of Africville. Murray’s supple prose and confident storytelling make Cyril’s journey a fascinating and rewarding reading experience in a debut of uncommon power and pathos.

 

Wanda Nanibush and Geogina Uhlyarik (editors) Moving the Museum (Goose Lane Editions)

Jury Citation

Moving the Museum is revelatory. The book challenges and provokes readers to question and re-establish their relationships with Indigenous art by presenting new ways for museums to present and interact with Indigenous communities and artists. This book kicks the colonial gaze to the curb, insisting instead that museums and galleries radically shift what they’ve been doing and offers page after page enacting the potential of Indigenous art to empower, inspire, and create community. Wanda Nanibush has taken up her role as a steward of Indigenous art at Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario and uses it here to present deeply grounded and transformative Indigenous knowledge in an accessible way, while Georgiana Uhlyarik, and other AGO colleagues, offer support essential to enacting real change. Moving the Museum is an art book that is practical, radical, and necessary.

 

Dionne Brand, Nomenclature New and Collected Poems (Penguin Random House)

Jury Citation:

Nomenclature documents four decades of witness, rages, and survival, from global literary icon, Dionne Brand. The writer famously asks her students, does the world need this line? We, the jury, knew Toronto Book Award submissions were being measured against the pristine clarity of Dionne Brand’s necessary lines; defiant experiments from a legendary imagination at once ancestral and singular. The city of Toronto is given voice, character, an “I,” in this staggering inventory. Brand’s luminous oeuvre investigates cities,mapping beauty, language, coloniality, bloodshed, Black, Queer, gender identities and place, within a liberatory politic. Dionne Brand’s profound lines are exquisite blades which insist, disturb, confront, demand, without apology, our eardrums.

 

 

 

Sophie Jai, Wild Fires (The Borough Press)

Jury Citation:

When her mysteriously mute cousin dies, Cassandra returns home to Toronto for the funeral. The big house on Florence Street is packed with her mother, sisters, aunts, a single uncle, and too many memories and secrets to count. As the long, cold days pass, Cassandra excavates the corners of her memory and prods at the whirlwind women, trying to piece together the narrative of her family. Moving between Trinidad and Toronto, the past and the present, Jai sets her scenes precisely, and the tension leaps off the page. With thoughtful prose and absorbing characters, Sophie Jai’s stunning debut cements her career as one to watch.

How to Reach Us

The Arts and Letters Club of Toronto
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Toronto, Ontario
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416 597-0223

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