Speak, Silence by Kim Echlin has won the 2021 Toronto Book Award. The novel, published by Penguin Random House Canada, was announced as the winner yesterday, at an online ceremony hosted by CBC radio’s Ismaila Alfa and presented in conjunction with program partner Toronto Public Library (TPL).
The 2021 Toronto Book Awards’ volunteer jury described Echlin’s novel as a story of tragedy and community rebuilding that hooks the reader from the beginning to the last page. In the story, a Toronto journalist travels to war-torn Europe to reunite with her former lover and report on a festival in Sarajevo. What she finds is a network of women determined to move beyond their country’s shame. In an impeccably well-researched text, Echlin portrays the horrors of the Bosnian war through the stories of systemic sexual assault in three generations of a Muslim family with prose that portrays both horror and hope.
Speak, Silence was chosen from a list of finalists that also included:
• Missing From the Village by Justin Ling (Penguin Random House Canada)
• Crosshairs by Catherine Hernandez (HarperCollins Canada)
• Æther: An Out-of-Body Lyric by Catherine Graham (Wolsak & Wynn)
• Swimmers in Winter by Faye Guenther (Invisible Publishing)
• On Property by Rinaldo Walcott (Biblioasis)
A TPL reading list of the shortlisted titles is available at https://account.torontopubliclibrary.ca/shared/toronto-book-awards-shortlist-2021/hajad2JA76JYdb4o8l9RVjyZRSQ7Jos5ajIN6mYs2tp0pEopbR.
This is the 47th year of the Toronto Book Awards. The annual awards offered $16,000 in prize money this year. Each shortlisted finalist received $1,000, with $10,000 awarded to the winner.
This year, the Toronto Book Awards received a record-breaking 93 submissions, a 50 per cent increase over previous years. The jury noted the high quality of the submissions and was delighted to have been able to include non-fiction, fiction, short stories, poetic prose and essays on the shortlist, as well as authors published by many different publishers.
The submissions were read and reviewed by the 2021 Toronto Book Awards Jury, comprising volunteer members Geoffrey E. Taylor, Christine Miskonoodinkwe Smith, Andy Stanleigh, Angela Wright, and Sanchari Sur.
More information about the awards is available at http://www.toronto.ca/book_awards and on Twitter at @Culture_TO and #tobookawards.
“Congratulations to Kim Echlin for her novel selected for the 2021 Toronto Book Award from so many submissions. My thanks also to the volunteers who served on the jury. I applaud all of the finalists for their determination and commitment to telling stories which might be challenging, but are unquestionably necessary, beautifully told, and resonate with our lives now. The diversity of writing talent in this city never ceases to amaze me. I encourage all Torontonians to pick up one of this year’s Toronto Book Awards titles from their local library or bookstore and explore the depth of these stories.”
– Mayor John Tory
“Congratulations to Kim Echlin on winning the 2021 Toronto Book Award for her novel, Speak, Silence. The annual awards are a terrific opportunity to recognize the tremendous literary talent in Toronto, and to celebrate the diverse stories inspired by our city. We are so proud of all the nominated authors and hope that Torontonians will read each one of these wonderful books.”
– Vickery Bowles, City Librarian of Toronto Public Library
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