Yesterday, The Word On Street attended the Toronto Book Awards at Appel Salon in the Toronto Reference Library – they serve delicious, delicious food by the way. This is the 36th Toronto Book Awards, established in 1974 by the City Council and now run in partnership between the City of Toronto and the Toronto Public Library. This is only my second awards ceremony (click here to read about my first) I’ve attended so it’s all still very new and exciting for me.
This year’s shortlisted authors were:
- Seán Cullen for The Prince of Neither Here Nor There (Puffin Canada)
- Cary Fagan for Valentine’s Fall (Cormorant Books)
- Lauren Kirshner for Where We Have to Go (McClelland & Stewart)
- Mark Sinnett for The Carnivore (ECW Press)
- Dragan Todorovic Diary of Interrupted Days (Random House of Canada)
And a big congratulations to the winner, Mark Sinnett!
The ceremony was actually quite perfect. It was very well organized and well run. The host, Matt Galloway, was eloquent and charming and the presenter, Mayor David Miller was very articulate and engaging. Each author was introduced by Galloway and a short video presentation that gave some background information about the author and put their books into context. For instance, Seán Cullen wrote his shortlisted book for his younger son, because his first series was dedicated to his first son — and obviously they both need their own series.
Highlight of the night: when Cullen arrived to the awards ceremony literally in the nick of time. His video had just finished, Galloway had walked back on stage to perhaps stall a bit, giving a little more background about Cullen, and in he walks just as his name was being called and he was to meet the Mayor on stage (who congratulated and awarded each nominee with their prize money — $1000! — and a certificate). Talk about good timing.
Mark Sinnett gave a great acceptance speech. He was very gracious, and actually quite funny in that infamously dry, British way — he is originally from Britain. He ended his speech with a big shout out to his wife, thanking her for putting up with living with a writer for so long — apparently it can be quite difficult, according to Sinnett.
The winning book: The Carnivore
This novel is set in 2004, 50 years after Hurricane Hazel ripped through Toronto with 110km winds, bursting the Humber River banks leaving 81 dead and many more injured. The main charact, Ray Townes, was a policeman at the time and became a celebrated town hero for rescuing pets, a woman and stranded families. Fifty years, dying from Emphysema, he is trying to relive his glory, while his wife views that night and his ‘heroism’ far differently. Individually, both characters tell their story, piecing together their empty marriage, a lifetime of lies and the fragility of human relationships, all coming back to that one night. It’s a historical novel that explores both this horrific event and two individuals still trying to escape it.