(Trinidad Express) Poet Roger Robinson, novelist Robert Antoni and writer Carole Boyce Davies represent Trinidad and Tobago alongside writers from four other Caribbean countries on the long list for the 2014 OCM (One Caribbean Media) Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature.
Sponsored by OCM, parent company of the Express and TV6, the prize is presented as part of Trinidad and Tobago’s annual literary festival, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest.
The prize long list, announced yesterday by the judges, covers poetry, fiction, and literary non-fiction. In the poetry category, UK-based Grenadian Malika Booker’s work, Pepper Seed, interconnects a larger diasporic story, which draws on dramatic monologue, historical narratives and poetry of witness in its delivery.
Oracabessa by Lorna Goodison is a book of risky journeys, mappings and re-mappings through Spain, Portugal, Canada and her homeland of Jamaica as the poet navigates place, history and imagination. Fellow Jamaican, Richard Baugh’s work Black Sand focuses on the poem, and its struggle to come into existence as a moment of clarity in a world of chaos.
The Butterfly Hotel by Trinidadian Roger Robinson features stirring works that shape new concepts of home by the very rewarding act of re-creating memory through stories that are gracefully and elegantly rendered.
Three novels vie in the fiction category. As Flies to Whatless Boys by Trinidadian Robert Antoni is a tragic historical novel, accented with West Indian cadence and captivating humour, provides an unforgettable glimpse into nineteenth-century Trinidad and Tobago.
Haitian Edwidge Danticat’s Claire of the Sea Light embraces the magic and heartbreak of ordinary life and brings readers deep into the intertwined lives of a small seaside town where a little girl, the daughter of a fisherman, has gone missing.
In Jamaican writer Kerry Young’s work Gloria, a story of love in its many forms unfolds, and of Gloria’s evolution—from a frightened girl on the run to a woman fully possessed of her own power.
The non-fiction category brings together three excellent titles from different countries. In Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture Guyanese writer, Gaiutra Bahadur, tells through her great-grandmother’s story, the stories of countless other women who made the passage from India to the Caribbean, and opens a window to their perilous journeys to a forgotten world of servitude as indentured labour.
Trinidadian Carole Boyce Davies’ work, Caribbean Spaces: Escape from the Twilight Zones, echoes the migrant’s longing for home as well as the woman’s search for wholeness in an ever-fragmenting world. Kei Miller’s Writing Down the Vision is a collection of essays that presents a range of experiences—personal and public—which the writer uses to articulate his vision, his understanding of the realities of life in Jamaica and the Caribbean.
The judges read 54 books entered for the 2014 OCM Bocas Prize, which is open to books by Caribbean writers published in the previous calendar year and comes with an award of US$10,000. The winners in the three genre categories will be announced on March 30, and the prize will be presented on April 27, during the fourth annual NGC Bocas Lit Fest in Port of Spain.