Kim Echlin wins $10K Toronto Book Award for novel Speak, Silence

Established by Toronto City Council in 1974, the awards annually recognize literary works in all categories that are inspired by the city of Toronto. 
Kim Echlin won the 2021 Toronto Book Award for Speak, Silence. (Penguin Random House)

Kim Echlin has won the 2021 Toronto Book Award for her novel Speak, Silence.

Established by Toronto City Council in 1974, the prize annually recognizes literary works in all categories that are inspired by the city of Toronto.

Echlin will receive $10,000 for her win.

Speak, Silence is about a resilient sisterhood and tells the story of a history-shaping trial. The novel follows Gota, a Toronto journalist, as she travels to war-torn Europe to reunite with her former lover and report on a film festival in Sarajevo. She ends up encountering a community of women determined to confront their abusers. Echlin explores the horrors of the Bosnian war through the stories of systemic and generational sexual assault.

Canadian writer Kim Echlin weaves testimony from Bosnian War “rape camps” into a new work of fiction that shows the power of speaking up.

Echlin is the author of novels Elephant Winter, Dagmar's Daughter, Under the Visible Life and The Disappeared, which was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and won the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award for Fiction. She's also won the CBC Nonfiction Prize. Echlin lives in Toronto.

Speak, Silence  was chosen from 93 submissions, which was narrowed down to six finalists. Each finalist will receive $1,000.

The other titles on the 2021 shortlist were journalist Justin Ling for his nonfiction book Missing from the Village, playwright and performer Catherine Hernandez for the novel Crosshairs, Catherine Graham for the poetry collection Æther: An Out-of-Body Lyric, Faye Guenther for the short story collection Swimmers in Winter and University of Toronto professor Rinaldo Walcott for the nonfiction book On Property.

The 2021 jury was made up of Geoffrey E. Taylor, Christine Miskonoodinkwe Smith, Andy Stanleigh, Angela Wright and Sanchari Sur. 

Journalist and activist Desmond Cole won last year for his memoir The Skin We're In.

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