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James Maskalyk's Life on the Ground Floor: Letters from the Edge of Emergency Medicine.

Real-life stories dominate the short list for this year's Toronto Book Awards, which was announced on Thursday.

The only work of fiction nominated for the city-run prize, which celebrates books that are "evocative of Toronto" is Catherine Hernandez's debut novel, Scarborough, published earlier this year by Arsenal Pulp Press. The other nominees are the Coach House Books anthology Any Other Way: How Toronto Got Queer, whose multiple editors include Globe and Mail editorial researcher Stephanie Chambers, as well as three memoirs: social activist and radio pioneer B. Denham Jolly for In the Black: My Life, published by ECW Press; physician James Maskalyk for Life on the Ground Floor: Letters from the Edge of Emergency Medicine, published by Doubleday Canada; and restaurateur Jen Agg for I Hear She's a Real Bitch, also published by Doubleday Canada.

"This year, the Toronto Book Awards captivate us with intensely personal stories that reveal how Toronto's diversity is embodied through its residents," said Toronto mayor John Tory in a statement. "It is also notable that three of the authors were recognized as finalists with their debut book."

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The winner of the prize will be announced Oct. 12 during an event at the Toronto Reference Library. Each finalist receives $1,000, with an additional $10,000 going to the winner.

Previous winners of the prize, which was established by Toronto City Council in 1974, include Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Morley Callaghan, Robertson Davies, Charlotte Gray, Austin Clarke, Dionne Brand, Anne Michaels, Timothy Findley and Guy Vanderhaeghe.

Funding for school libraries in Canada is woefully inadequate and children at high-needs elementary schools are paying the price. Read Between the Lines, a documentary produced by the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation, captures the importance of early literacy and the challenges we face in Canada by underfunding school libraries.
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