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October 12, 2017
In the Black by B. Denham Jolly wins 2017 Toronto Book Awards
B. Denham Jolly is the winner of the 2017 Toronto Book Awards for his memoir In the Black: My Life, published by ECW Press. The announcement was made this evening at an awards ceremony held at the Toronto Reference Library.

"Congratulations to Mr. Jolly and all of the finalists for telling the stories of our city so memorably,” said Councillor John Filion (Ward 23 Willowdale), the Mayor’s Arts Advocate. Their memoirs, novels and essays enrich and expand our understanding of Toronto and the incredible people in it."

"This is an exciting year for the Toronto Book Awards with so many excellent books as finalists," said Vickery Bowles, City Librarian. "But we’re really pleased that Jolly’s book, In the Black: My Life, has been selected as the winner, giving voice to a unique kind of Canadian experience that has historically not been heard. Congratulations to Denham Jolly and all the other finalists."

Jolly’s memoir was chosen from a list of finalists that included:
• I Hear She's a Real Bitch, a memoir by Jen Agg, published by Doubleday Canada
• Scarborough, a novel by Catherine Hernandez, published by Arsenal Pulp Press
• Life on the Ground Floor, a memoir by James Maskalyk, published by Doubleday Canada
• Any Other Way: How Toronto Got Queer, a collection of essays edited by Jane Farrow, John Lorinc, et al., published by Coach House Books

The jury citation noted: “Black rights activist and entrepreneur Denham Jolly should be a household name. 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. In the Black recounts Jolly’s journey from a happy boyhood in Jamaica to business success in Toronto publishing Contrast and founding FLOW 93.5, Canada’s first Black-owned radio station.”

“Denham Jolly’s autobiography is a quintessentially Canadian success story,” said Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the City’s Economic Development Committee. “His memoir reveals how the lessons of his childhood in Jamaica enabled him to have an enduring and inspiring influence on Toronto’s business and cultural communities.”

More information on his book is available at

This is the 43rd year of the Toronto Book Awards. The annual awards offer $15,000 in prize money. Each finalist will receive $1,000, with $10,000 going to the winner. This year's Toronto Book Awards Committee is comprised of volunteer members Steven Andrews, Cherie Dimaline, Dwayne Morgan, Martha Sharpe and Dianah Smith.

More information about the awards are available at and on Twitter at @TOBookAwards and #tobookawards.

The Toronto Star is the Toronto Book Awards' media sponsor.

Toronto Public Library is the world's busiest urban public library system. Every year, more than 19 million people visit library branches in neighbourhoods across the city and borrow more than 33 million items. To learn more about Toronto Public Library, visit the website at or call Answerline at 416-393-7131. For all the latest buzz about the library, follow @torontolibrary on Twitter.

Toronto is Canada's largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world's most livable cities. In 2017, Toronto is honouring Canada's 150th birthday with "TO Canada with Love," a year-long program of celebrations, commemorations and exhibitions. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can visit, call 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or follow us on Twitter at and on Instagram at

Media Contact
Shane Gerard
Strategic Communications

Gregory McCormick
Toronto Public Library



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