Six Metres of Pavement, by queer author Farzana Doctor, has been selected as one of five finalists for the Toronto Book Award, which celebrates authors and books that are evocative of Toronto.
“I was really honoured,” Doctor says. “The book is inspired by the neighbourhood that I live in, Brockton Triangle, so to be nominated for a Toronto-based award made me thrilled.”
The book tells the story of three neighbours whose damaged lives intersect as they slowly come to care for each other despite their differences of background, class, race and sexual orientation. Ismail, a South Asian man, is consumed with guilt over his baby daughter’s death; Fatima is a young queer activist who’s been kicked out of her parents’ house; and Celia is a Portuguese-Canadian widow.
“One of the things that takes place in this book, and I think this is really true of Toronto, is that people of different communities really rub up against each other,” Doctor says.
The Toronto Book Award winner will be announced Oct 11 at the Bram and Bluma Appel Salon at the Toronto Reference Library. The finalists each receive $1,000, and the winner takes home another $10,000.
The nomination is just the latest honour for Six Metres of Pavement, which was awarded the Lambda Award for Lesbian Fiction in June. It’s Doctor’s second novel, after her 2007 book Stealing Nasreen.
Doctor says she’s been able to devote herself to her writing on a part-time basis since Stealing Nasreen’s success. She says she spends two or three days each week focusing on her writing and the balance of time on her career as a psychotherapist specializing on work with the queer community and people of colour.
She’s also been selected as writer-in-residence at North York Central Library, a position she’ll hold through the fall. She’ll spend her residency offering workshops for emerging and aspiring writers and reviewing manuscripts.
The other Toronto Book Award nominees are Copernicus Avenue, by Andrew Borkowski; Paramita, Little Black, by Suzanne Robertson; Writing Gordon Lightfoot: The Man, the Music, and the World in 1972, by Dave Bidini; and Writing the Revolution, by Michele Landsberg.
Six Metres of Pavement is published by Dundurn Press and is available as a paperback or e-book.