Books

Sarah Polley wins $10K Toronto Book Award for 'brave, intelligent' memoir Run Towards Danger

The jury described Polley's book as "a brave, intelligent and sometimes funny book of essays."

The Toronto Book Awards honour books that are inspired by the city

Run Towards the Danger is by Sarah Polley (George Pimentel/WIREIMAGE/Getty Images, Penguin Random House)

Sarah Polley won the 2022 Toronto Book Awards for her memoir, Run Towards the Danger

Established by Toronto City Council in 1974, the Toronto Book Awards honour books that are inspired by the city. 

Polley will be awarded $10,000 for her win. 

Run Towards the Danger, Polley's first book, is an essay collection about learning, changing and what it's like to live in one's body. The memoir reflects on memorable moments in Polley's life and the fallibility of memory. 

Polley is a Toronto-born actor, screenwriter and director. Her first feature-length film, Away from Her, was adapted from the Alice Munro story The Bear Came Over the Mountain and was nominated for the Academy Award for best adapted screenplay.

Her other films include Stories We Tell and Take This Waltz. 

In a recent Writers & Company episode, the Canadian director and actor told Eleanor Wachtel that writing a book is "the thing [she] most wanted to do."

The jury described Polley's book as, "a brave, intelligent and sometimes funny book of essays."

From her beginnings as a young performer, to becoming an internationally acclaimed filmmaker herself, Sarah Polley has made bold, unusual choices in her work. Her first feature film, Away from Her, won multiple awards, while her personal documentary, Stories We Tell, was included in the Top Ten Canadian Films of All Time. Now she’s published a powerful collection of personal essays called Run Towards the Danger. They probe some of the most difficult experiences she has faced.

The 43-year-old Polley told Matt Galloway on The Current that a brain injury in 2015 became a catalyst for her to address some past trauma. "These are the stories that haunted me," she said.

She shared them now because "I think I'm strong enough to handle this now."

Run Towards the Danger was chosen from 73 submissions, which was narrowed down to five finalists. Each of the remaining finalists will receive $1,000.

The other titles on the 2022 shortlist were Camilla Gibb for her novel The Relatives; Adrienne Shadd, Afua Cooper and Karolyn Smardz Frost for their nonfiction book The Underground Railroadwriter and CBC host Falen Johnson for Two Indians; and H.N. Khan for his YA novel Wrong Side of the Court

The 2022 jury was comprised of author Ann Y.K. Choi, former librarian Margaret Henry, poet Khashayar "Kess" Mohammadi, author Phillip Dwight Morgan and Indigenous educator Brenda Wastasecoot.

Kim Echlin won last year for her novel Speak, Silence.

Other past winners include Desmond Cole for his book The Skin We're InDionne Brand for her novel Theory and David Chariandy for his novel Brother

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