B. Denham Jolly wins 2017 Toronto Book Award

October 12, 2017 | Book Buzz

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In the blackThe 2017 Toronto Book Award was presented to B. Denham Jolly for his autobiography In the Black: My Life which documents his experiences as a businessman, publisher, broadcaster and civil rights activist. Born in Jamaica, Jolly graduated from McGill University in 1955. When he returned to Canada, he taught science at Forest Hill Collegiate before finding success as the owner of nursing and retirement homes. He became the publisher for the newspaper Contrast in 1982 and spent 12 years in a fight to get a license for Canada's first Black-owned radio station. FLOW 93.5 launched in 2001. The book describes these successes but also the discrimination that Jolly has experienced as a black man in Canada. The jury citation noted: "With humour and colourful anecdotes, In the Black shines a light on many of the hurdles faced by immigrants trying to make a better life for themselves and their children. From politicians to community leaders, no punches are pulled as Jolly recounts the hurdles that littered his path to business, personal and community success."

One of the TO Book Award finalists, Catherine Hernandez, wrote on Twitter that "losing to Denham Jolly is the best feeling. In a city that denies police brutality what needs to be said more than anything is BLACK LIVES, BLACK STORIES MATTER."

In the Black: My Life by B. Denham Jolly

This year's other finalists were:

Any other way how toronto got queer

Any Other Way: How Toronto Got Queer edited by John Lorinc, Jane Farrow, Stephanie Chambers, Maureen FitzGerald, Tim McCaskell, Rebecka Sheffield, Tatum Taylor, Rahim Thawer and Ed Jackson

I hear she's a real bitch

I Hear She's a Real Bitch by Jen Agg

Life on the ground floor

Life on the Ground Floor: Letters from the Edge of Emergency Medicine by James Maskalyk


Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez

The Toronto Book Awards were established in 1974 to honour books that reflect and celebrate the city.