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Celebrating the 2021 Toronto Book Awards

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Celebrate the stories that connect us at The Word On The Street Toronto’s 2021 virtual festival of storytelling, ideas and imagination.

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The Word On The Street presents Celebrating the 2021 Toronto Book Awards

Celebrating the finalists for the 2021 Toronto Book Awards, honouring books of literary merit that are inspired by the city. Presented by the City of Toronto, the winner will be announced this fall.

Moderated by Sue Carter and Kerri Sakamoto.

This panel will stream live Wednesday, September 22 at 7pm & 8pm ET.

Visit our website to see the full programming schedule!

Panelists, 7pm

Award-winning author Kim Echlin lives in Toronto. She is the author of Elephant Winter and Dagmar's Daughter, and her third novel, The Disappeared, was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, won the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award for Fiction and was published in 20 countries. Her novel Under the Visible Life was critically acclaimed, endorsed by Khaled Hosseini, and declared "nothing short of a masterpiece" by Quill & Quire. Her most recent novel is Speak, Silence.

Catherine Graham is the author of seven poetry collections and the novel Quarry. She teaches creative writing at U of T, leads the TIFA Book Club and interviews for By the Lake Book Club. Æther: An Out-of-Body Lyric, shortlisted for the Toronto Book Awards, is her most recent book.

Justin Ling is an investigative journalist whose reporting has focused on stories and issues undercovered and misunderstood. His writing has appeared in the Globe and Mail, the National Post, the Guardian, Foreign Policy, and elsewhere. In 2019 he hosted "The Village," the award-winning third season of the CBC podcast Uncover, which examined cold cases from the 1970s that were reopened as a result of the McArthur investigation.

Panelists, 8pm

Faye Guenther is author of the short story collection Swimmers in Winter, published by Invisible Publishing and shortlisted for the 2021 Toronto Book Awards and the 2021 ReLit Awards. Her writing has appeared in literary magazines including Joyland and The Offing. She has a PhD in English from York University.

Catherine Hernandez (she/her) is an award-winning author and screenwriter. She is a proud queer woman who is of Filipino, Spanish, Chinese and Indian descent and married into the Navajo Nation. Her first novel, Scarborough, won the Jim Wong-Chu Award for the unpublished manuscript; was a finalist for the Toronto Book Awards, the Evergreen Forest of Reading Award, the Edmund White Award, and the Trillium Book Award; and was longlisted for Canada Reads.

Rinaldo Walcott is a Professor in the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto. His research is in the area of Black Diaspora Cultural Studies, gender and sexuality.

Shop local! Purchase books by WOTS2021 featured authors through local independent bookstores on our official bookseller page.


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About the Festival

For 32 years, The Word On The Street has been a gathering place for authors, publishers, booksellers, and readers of all ages to celebrate the stories that connect us.

We’re staying virtual for WOTS2021, so you can tune in from wherever you are to enjoy incredible programming with 100+ authors presented over 10 days from September 16th to 26th, featuring bestselling Canadian and Indigenous authors like Eden Robinson, Andre Alexis, Zoe Whittall, and Richard Van Camp.

Get insight into the year’s top issues through a literary lens, with readings and panels on topics like climate change, decolonization, and how we care for one another. Poetry, memoir, mystery & more, WOTS2021 has the books you’ve been looking for.

Visit the 2021 Festival Homepage!

You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel for a preview of what to expect during the WOTS2021 festival, and watch (or re-watch) our year-round City Imagines and Book Talk series.


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Become a Patron of The Word On The Street

We are very grateful to our vibrant and generous community for your continued support throughout this challenging period for live events. If you’d like to contribute financially, you can add a donation to your registration or visit our CanadaHelps fundraising page to learn more about how you can help to sustain Toronto’s favourite book festival.

We also appreciate your support in the form of kind messages for our small-but-mighty team and helping us spread the word on social media!

On COVID-19 & In-Person Events

For the second time ever, WOTS2021 will be held virtually with programming hosted on our website and streamed live on YouTube. But that’s not all! We’re also collaborating with local authors and bookstore partners to offer a limited number of socially-distanced book signings. Check out the Bookstore Signing Schedule for more details on who might be coming to your neighbourhood.

If you’re most familiar with our offline offerings: Hi! We miss you, and hope you are well!

Our team is doing the best we can to ensure the health and safety of our community, especially for vulnerable and younger readers who don’t yet have access to a vaccine.

Staying virtual has given our team the opportunity to re-think how we can best honour our mandate as champions of literacy, and we can’t wait to share our exciting news about the future of WOTS with you this September!


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The Word On The Street is an annual celebration of storytelling, ideas and imagination, hosting Canada's largest FREE book and magazine festival annually since 1990 and promoting great books by Canadian and Indigenous authors year-round.

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Organizer The Word On The Street

Organizer of Celebrating the 2021 Toronto Book Awards

The Word On The Street champions reading and writing in Canada primarily through a free festival celebrating storytelling, ideas, and imagination.

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