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June 8, 2005
2005 Toronto Book Awards shortlist announced Torontonians’ summer reading begins
The five-member Toronto Book Awards Committee today announced the nominees for
the 2005 prize. From the 73 submissions, the committee has selected a diverse
list, which includes two novels, a collection of short stories, a memoir and a
biography-all set in the city of Toronto. The five finalists, in alphabetical
order, are:
  • Constance Backhouse and Nancy L. Backhouse for their biography The Heiress vs. The Establishment: Mrs. Campbell’s Campaign for Legal Justice (UBC Press)
  • David Bezmozgis for his story collection Natasha and Other Stories (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall for his memoir Down to This: Squalor and Splendour in a Big-city Shantytown (Random House Canada)
  • Don Coles for his novel Doctor Bloom’s Story (Alfred A. Knopf Canada)
  • Russell Smith for his novel Muriella Pent (Doubleday Canada)

"With over 70 wonderfully diverse submissions to review-covering everything
from fiction to non-fiction, from short-stories to children's books-jurors
faced the daunting, yet enviable, task of identifying Toronto's best," said
Bill Krangle, Chair of the Toronto Book Awards Committee. "In the end, the
jurors believe that this year’s short-listed books not only evoke Toronto
through exceptional observation, they also represent remarkable literary
achievements in their own right."

Established by Toronto City Council in 1974, The Toronto Book Awards honour
authors of books of literary or artistic merit that are evocative of Toronto.
The awards offer $15,000 in prize money. Each finalist will receive $1,000 and
the winning author receives the remaining prize money. Last year saw a tie,
with Kevin Bazzana's biography Wondrous Strange: The Life and Art of Glenn
Gould and Kate Taylor's novel Mme. Proust and the Kosher Kitchen both named

The 2005 Toronto Book Awards Committee is made up of volunteer members Mary
Chalmers, Thea Herman, Bill Krangle, John R. Farrell and Winona McMorrow.

The shortlist will be officially presented to Toronto City Council in a brief
ceremony in July. The winner will be announced at a Toronto Book Awards
reception in early September. The finalists will read from their nominated
books in the City of Toronto tent at The Word On The Street book and magazine
fair on September 25 at Queen’s Park. For more information on the award, the
books, the authors and the jury, please visit

Media Contacts:

Bev Kurmey
Protocol Officer
City of Toronto

Michaela Cornell
Toronto Book Awards Publicist


Comments on the merits of each book on the shortlist by
Toronto Book Awards Committee

Doctor Bloom’s Story
Don Coles (Alfred A. Knopf Canada)
"Doctor Bloom's Story is a novel with a strong sense of location, set primarily
at Yonge and Eglinton in Toronto. It starts off like a memoir with Dr. Bloom's
arrival in Canada. It then shifts to more of a moral dilemma when he suspects
that a young woman in his writing class is being abused by her husband. Her
husband ends up coming to him for medical advice and this is where his ethical
struggle begins. The author's poetic style is revealed many times in the novel
with his description and detail. It was a pleasure to read."

Down to This: Squalor and Splendour in a Big-city Shantytown
Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall (Random House Canada)
"Down to This is a trenchant chronicle of everyday life in Tent City, a 27-acre
shantytown sprawled along the east end of Lakeshore Boulevard, where
Bishop-Stall lived for 10 months prior to its eventual demolition. By turns
hysterically funny and miserably tragic, Down to This is an unflinching account
of survival on Toronto’s margins, and a remarkably affecting ode to a lost city
and the people who called it home."

The Heiress vs. The Establishment: Mrs. Campbell’s Campaign for Legal Justice
Constance Backhouse and Nancy L. Backhouse (UBC Press)
"A little-known woman’s fight for justice through the courts is given
historical recovery in this seductive and revelatory account. Framed by Mrs.
Campbell’s own words, and backed by nuanced research by the authors, The
Heiress vs. The Establishment is a compelling story of a journey for justice
during a period in Toronto-and Canada’s- recent history that is as compelling
as it is captivating."

Muriella Pent
Russell Smith (Doubleday Canada)
"Smith has exceptionally fine instincts as a writer of satire - he reminds one
of the early Kingsley Amis. Some of the more memorable scenes linger in the
mind long after the book is put down. Toronto’s Wychwood Park enclave of upper
middle-class snobbery is beautifully detailed as is the city’s current arts

Natasha and Other Stories
David Bezmozgis (HarperCollins Publishers)
"Recounting the tale of Mark Berman and his family in a series of beautifully
crafted short stories, David Bezmozgis's first book is a remarkable portrait of
coming of age and immigrant life within a Russian Jewish community in Toronto.
Bezmozgis has created a work that, while touching and sympathetic, is both free
from sentimentality and incredibly enjoyable."



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