Meet the Finalists

The 2022 Toronto Book Awards jury has narrowed this year’s field of 73 submissions to a diverse shortlist featuring:

Access the finalist books through the Toronto Public Library.

Shortlisted authors will be featured at a free Word on the Street pop-up event at Evergreen Brick Works on Sunday, September 25 from 1-3:30 p.m.

The grand prize winner will be announced at a gala ceremony on Wednesday, November 16 at the Bram and Bluma Appel Salon, located on the second floor of the Toronto Reference Library. Tickets are free but must be reserved in advance.

This year’s Toronto Book Awards jury featured author Ann Yu-Kyung Choi, retired TPL librarian Margaret Henry, poet Khashayar “Kess” Mohammadi, author Phillip Dwight Morgan and Indigenous Studies educator Brenda Wastasecoot.

Book jacket, The Relatives by Camilla GibbThe Relatives is a beautifully-written exploration of family, loss, and love told through the interconnected lives of Tess, Emily, Lila, Adam, and Sofie. Their lives, much like their inner worlds, bristle with conflict, tragedy, and incertitude. Through their stories, Gibb invites readers into intimate places of her characters’ lives as they move through memories, across continents, and grapple with the vulnerability that belies their interdependence. With The Relatives, Gibb offers readers a novel that troubles their sense of obligation and stretches conceptions of the modern family—it is dark, tender, elegant, and full of surprises.

Book jacket, Two Indians by Falen JohnsonTwo Indians is about love, courage, and reclamation. Win leaves the rez to find her cousin Roe in Toronto. With the promise of the best view of the full moon, she lures her to a back alley, where they talk about the most difficult time of their lives. A family tragedy is uncovered, and Roe comes clean. Falen Johnson shows how Indigenous families have survived everything–residential schools, the sixties scoop, the current scoop of children–by supporting each other through it. Two Indians tells the stories of addiction and recovery, loss and reclamation, with humor and love. As the moon rises over the city, Win and Roe rise up to meet the challenges awaiting them back home. This book is a must read for students everywhere!

Book jacket, Wrong Side of the Court by H.N. KhanIn H.N. Khan’s debut novel, Wrong Side of the Court, fifteen-year-old Fawad Chaudry fantasizes about being the world’s first Pakistani NBA player. But he’s got a lot stacked against him, including family expectations, financial hardships, and gang violence. Set in Regent Park and nearby neighbourhoods, Khan skillfully spotlights Toronto’s diverse peoples, history and cultures, as integral to the story’s unfolding. From the delicious parathas that Fawad indulges in, to the play-by-play action on the basketball court, Khan engages us with a vivid writing style and a tenacious protagonist. A gritty and honest coming-of-age story, Wrong Side of the Court ultimately transports readers into the lives of Khan’s characters, shedding valuable insight into the life and challenges of a modern youth living in Toronto.

Book jacket, Run Towards the Danger by Sarah PolleyIn a brave, intelligent and sometimes funny book of essays, Toronto director, screenwriter and actor, Sarah Polley reflects on times in her life when she faced physical or psychological danger. She remembers how she felt and acted at the time and how “the power of my adult life informs the relationship to my memories.” After struggling with the aftermath of a concussion, Polley was advised by a specialist to engage her fears and run towards the danger. She does so with riveting clarity in this fine memoir, proving that she is as fierce as she is technical, as vulnerable as she is malleable, as strong as she is critical.

Book jacket, The Underground Railroad, Next Stop Toronto! by Adrienne Shadd, Afua Cooper, Karolyn Smardz FrostBefore and during the American Civil War, 30,000 to 40,000 freedom seekers from the United States escaped slavery and came to Canada. Three distinguished scholars of Black history tell that powerful story in this concise, readable and well-illustrated book, in a way that is accessible for students and general readers of many ages. The detailed social and political history is brought to life in dozens of remarkable profiles of the women, men and families who made that dangerous journey. We learn how they escaped, the terrible choices they often made to leave spouses and children behind, the jobs they found, the businesses they built and the ways they contributed to their new home. Originally published in 2002, this new edition retains the appealing format of the original but has been thoroughly revised and updated with much new information including a chapter on the archaeology of Toronto’s African Canadian past. The Underground Railroad enriches our understanding of the history of Toronto.

Other titles longlisted this year included:

Home of the Floating Lily by Silmy Abdullah (Dundurn Press)

Outdoor School (edited by) Diane Borsato and Amish Morrell (Douglas & McIntyre)

Work for a Million by Amanda Deibert and Selena Goulding (McClelland & Stewart)

My City Speaks by Darren Lebeuf, Ashley Barron (Kids Can Press)

Massey Hall by David McPherson (Dundurn Press)

My Face in the Light by Martha Schabas (Knopf Canada)

Fight Night by Miriam Toews (Vintage Canada)

We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies by Tsering Yangozom Lama (McClelland & Stewart)