Toronto Book Awards: Recap

We have a new reviewer! Yay! Christine Sweeton will be reviewing the 2011 shortlisted books for the Toronto Book Awards.  The shortlist will be announced on Sept. 6, 2011, and all of the shortlisted authors will be appearing at the Toronto Book Awards Tent! This is Christine’s first post, where she reviews the history of the Toronto Book Awards. To learn more about Christine, click here.


I am looking forward to reviewing the 2011 Toronto Book Awards shortlist. Once this year’s shortlist is announced, I will start reading and posting reviews about them. The author’s will all be featured this year at The Word On The Street Toronto! In preparation for my reviews, I thought it would be nice to take a look back at The Toronto Book Awards over the years.

The Toronto Book Awards was established in 1974 to honour authors of books that are evocative of Toronto. Currently, a five-member jury reviews the entries and selects a shortlist of finalists that will be announced in early September. The winner will be announced in October. Finalists will be featured at readings hosted by the City of Toronto and the Toronto Public Library. Finalists are also featured each year at The Word On The Street! The award comes with money too! Each finalist receives $1,000 and the winning author receives around $10,000, depending on the number of finalists.

The list of previous winners is very impressive and includes authors like Margaret Atwood, Robertson Davies, and Glen Downie. Timothy Findley has received the honour twice, most recently in 1994 for Headhunter but also in 1978 for his chilling novel The Wars. If you are looking for a quick read as we await the announcement of this year’s shortlist, may I suggest The Wars. It is an amazing novel set during World War I that not only won a Toronto Book Award but also the 1977 Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction.


4 thoughts on “Toronto Book Awards: Recap

  1. Readers of this blog may be interested to know that on the sidewalk of Queen Street (north side), just west of Spadina, there are tablets on the sidewalk which lists previous winners of the City of Toronto Book Awards. The list goes up until 1990 or so (will have to check) and was installed in connection with The Word On The Street. You may recall that The Word On The Street began its life on Queen Street between Spadina and University Avenues.

    Until the Festival was moved to Queens Park North, recipients of the award were announced in what was then the CityTV parking lot as part of the opening ceremonies.

    One more bit of history the City of Toronto Book Award was initiated in the era of Mayor David Crombie with John Sewell being a primary mover and shaker on this prize.

  2. I love that there are tablets! I can’t wait to go find them. What about the last 11 years of winners? The City of Toronto should update these, it is so fun to find things like that and read them.

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