Here are the five books shortlisted for the 2017 Toronto Book Awards

Titles about the restaurant industry, emergency rooms, a trailblazing radio station and queer history are up for the $10,000 prize


Restaurateur Jen Agg’s memoir, radio trailblazer Denham Jolly’s autobiography and an anthology of queer history essays are among the titles shortlisted for this year’s Toronto Book Awards.

Agg, the proprietor behind celebrated Toronto eateries and cocktail bars The Black Hoof, Grey Gardens and Rhum Corner, published I Hear She’s A Real Bitch (Doubleday Canada) earlier this year. The book recounts her experiences in the service industry that shaped her feminism.

Denham Jolly’s In The Black: My Life (ECW Press) is an account of the Jamaican-Canadian media pioneer and activist’s life including his 12-year battle to get a license to launch the city’s first Black-owned radio station, Flow 93.5.

Any Other Way: How Toronto Got Queer (Coach House) is a collection of essays about Toronto’s underground queer history that includes a profile on singer Jackie Shane and a contribution by NOW Magazine editor-at-large Susan G. Cole.

In Life On The Ground Floor: Letters From The Edge Of Emergency Medicine (Penguin Random House), University of Toronto prof James Maskalyk takes readers into emergency rooms around the world.

The sole fiction title on this year’s shortlist is Catherine Hernandez’s Scarborough (Arsenal Pulp), a novel about two children living in poverty in the city’s east end.

Each of the authors will read from their books at the Word On The Street festival on September 24 and the awards will be handed out October 12 at the Toronto Reference Library’s Bram and Bluma Appel Salon.

Established by Toronto City Council in 1974, the event honours books that are “evocative of Toronto” and comes with $15,000 in prize money. Finalists each receive $1,000 and the winning author is awarded $10,000.

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