B. Denham Jolly's memoir about growing up Black in Toronto wins Toronto Book Award

The author, activist and entrepreneur won the $10,000 for In the Black, which explores his experiences being a person of colour in 1950s Toronto.
Denham Jolly, former owner of Canada's first black-owned radio station won the 2017 Toronto Books Awards for memoir In The Black. (Michelle Cheung/CBC News)

Author, activist and entrepreneur B. Denham Jolly has won the 2017 Toronto Book Awards for his memoir In the BlackThe $10,000 prize recognizes books that have literary merit and is evocative of Toronto.

In the Black documents the overt racism and discrimination Jolly endured while establishing a successful business in 1950s Toronto. Those experiences led Jolly to engage in social activism and to found the first Black-owned FM radio station in the city, Flow 93.5.

"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," the judges said in a statement.

The other nominated books were the memoir I Hear She's a Real Bitch by Jen Agg​, the novel Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez, the memoir Life on the Ground Floor by James Maskalyk and the essay collection Any Other Way: How Toronto Got Queer, edited by Jane Farrow and John Lorinc, et al. The remaining finalists will each receive $1,000. 


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