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David Chariandy takes home the Toronto Book Award

David Chariandy

David Chariandy has won the Toronto Book Award for his second novel, Brother (McClelland & Stewart). Chariandy accepted the $10,000 prize at a ceremony held at the Toronto Reference Library on Oct. 10.

The novel, set in Scarborough, Ont., in 1991, follows Trinidadian-Canadian brothers Michael and Francis’s coming-of-age as they navigate a city teeming with violence and racism. In his speech, Chariandy, who grew up in Scarborough and now lives in Vancouver, thanked his own parents and brother, noting “I couldn’t have written Brother without their support.”

In a statement, the jury – Nathan Adler, Susan G. Cole, Kevin Hardcastle, Soraya Peerbaye, and Itah Sadu – described Brother as “a near flawless piece of writing.” The other finalists included Dionne Brand, Carrianne Leung, Lee Maracle, and Kerri Sakamoto.

The next morning, Leung wrote on Twitter about the camaraderie among the writers, noting, “This was a shortlist made entirely of Indigenous writers, Black writers and writers of colour. Let us note this. We know what this city looks like but there is often disconnect between how this city looks and how it’s represented, so this is not a small thing.”