Festival News: Reviewing the Toronto Book Awards

This year, we are happy to welcome back our Toronto Book Awards‘ bloggers, Christine and Carol Sweeton – our mother/daughter blogging team! They will be reading and reviewing each of the 5 finalists for this year’s Toronto Book Awards, which were announced on August 30, 2012. To see who is nominated this year, click here. To read more about Christine and Carol, click here.

This is their fourth post of the series. Today, they are reviewing Six Metres of Pavement by Farzana Doctor. To see their first review, click here.

About the Book:

Ismail Boxwala made the worst mistake of his life one summer morning twenty years ago: he forgot his baby daughter in the back seat of his car. After his daughter’s tragic death, he struggles to continue living. A divorce, years of heavy drinking, and sex with strangers only leave him more alone and isolated. But Ismail’s story begins to change after he reluctantly befriends two women: Fatima, a young queer activist kicked out of her parents’ home; and Celia, his grieving Portuguese-Canadian neighbour who lives just six metres away. A slow-simmering romance develops between Ismail and Celia. Meanwhile, dangers lead Fatima to his doorstep. Each makes complicated demands of him, ones he is uncertain he can meet.

Chris and Carol’s Review:

Our two guest bloggers reviewing the five 2012 Toronto Book Awards finalists are given less than a month to read and report on the texts – the five finalists were announced on August 27 and the authors will be participating at the Word On The Street festival on Sunday September 23. This type of short timeline, as well as the fact that the mother-daughter team are sharing a single set of texts across a distance of more than 200km, has meant a bit of sacrifice; on her last visit to see Carol, Christine had to choose a book to leave with her mother, knowing that it would mean being unable to read it before the festival.

Upon review of the texts, Christine handed the sole novel of the group to Carol, saying, “You can read Six Metres of Pavement by Farzana Doctor now and I will get it from you at the festival to read after.” The choice was based on the novel’s length but also subject matter and situation surrounding one of the characters,  “Ismail  Boxwala made the worst mistake of his life twenty years ago: he forgot his baby daughter in the back seat of his car. After her tragic death, he struggles to continue living.” It seemed like too upsetting of a story to rush through. However, upon Carol’s completion of the novel her report altered Christine’s perspective; Carol reported, “Six Metres of Pavement is about two depressed people but it’s not a depressing book!” Carol states that she enjoyed all the texts this year, and although the differing genres and mediums make it hard to judge, Carol liked Six Metres of Pavement the best of the five 2012 Toronto Book Awards finalists. She felt thatDoctor wrote insightfully about families, the effects of trauma and grief, and the healing powers of reaching out to each other and helping others.

Aside from the two main characters of the book, Doctor also brought to life the characters’ extended families, neighbours, and significant friends. Carol found herself caring about the characters’ progress and sympathizing with their family problems, anxieties and troubles – hoping for them to find a way to a better life. She also liked how the text described Toronto – its neighbourhoods, communities, homes, classrooms, offices, transit, and streetscapes. With this glowing recommendation, Christine is very excited to read Six Metres of Pavement and can’t wait for the festival on Sunday so she can get the book back!

See Farzane Doctor read from her nominated title at The Word On The Street in the Toronto Book Awards Tent at 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Make sure to say hi to Carol, she will be volunteering in that tent!


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