An­nounc­ing the 2016 OCM Bo­cas Prize longlist

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

Nine writ­ers, rang­ing from the cel­e­brated to the newly emerg­ing, have been named on the longlist for the 2016 OCM Bo­cas Prize for Caribbean Lit­er­a­ture, spon­sored by One Caribbean Me­dia.

The Prize longlist, an­nounced by the judges on 6 March, 2016, in­cludes three genre cat­e­gories: books of po­etry, fic­tion, and lit­er­ary non-fic­tion.

The po­etry cat­e­gory in­cludes Burn, the se­cond book by Trinida­dian An­dre Ba­goo, along­side two books by au­thors bet­ter known for their fic­tion: Prov­i­den­tial, by US-based Ja­maican writer Colin Chan­ner, and Wife, by Tiphanie Yanique of the US Vir­gin Is­lands (pre­vi­ous win­ner of the 2011 OCM Bo­cas Prize - Fic­tion).

“We were de­lighted to read a set of po­etry col­lec­tions re­mark­able for their range of fo­cus and po­etic method,” write the prize judges. “Each en­try made its own claims on us in terms of orig­i­nal­ity, ap­peal, and am­bi­tion. Through­out our dis­cus­sions, all the col­lec­tions im­pressed upon us the vi­tal­ity of to­day’s voices in con­tem­po­rary Caribbean po­etry.”

The fic­tion cat­e­gory brings to­gether books by two al­ready prizewin­ning au­thors and the de­but pub­li­ca­tion of an ex­cit­ing new tal­ent. Fif­teen Dogs, by An­dré Alexis - born in Trinidad and based in Canada - is a grip­ping fa­ble about in­tel­li­gence, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and love told through a co­hort of ca­nine char­ac­ters. It pre­vi­ously won the 2015 Sco­tia­bank Giller Prize and the 2015 Rogers Writ­ers’ Trust Fic­tion Prize, two of Canada’s lead­ing lit­er­ary awards. The Whale House, by Trinida­dian Sharon Mil­lar, col­lects sto­ries of con­tem­po­rary T&T as lyri­cal as they are emo­tion­ally fierce, in­clud­ing the ti­tle piece, win­ner of the Com­mon­wealth Short Story Prize. The Pain Tree, by Canada-based Ja­maican Olive Se­nior (pre­vi­ous win­ner of the 2015 OCM Bo­cas Prize - Non-Fic­tion), is a col­lec­tion of short fic­tion broad in scope, rang­ing over Ja­maican so­ci­ety of the past cen­tury, deftly cap­tur­ing mo­ments of tri­umph and cri­sis in in­di­vid­ual lives.

Apart from the three longlisted fic­tion ti­tles, the judges also sin­gled out Mad­i­nah Girl, the de­but novel by Trinida­dian writer Anna Levi, for spe­cial men­tion. Through a story of fam­ily tur­moil, the book of­fers an un­flinch­ing pic­ture of con­tem­po­rary Trinidad and its un­der­world cul­ture.

In the non-fic­tion cat­e­gory, two books of per­sonal mem­oir join a work of his­tor­i­cal schol­ar­ship. The Gym­nast and Other Po­si­tions, by US-based Ja­maican Jac­que­line Bishop, is a hy­brid col­lec­tion of es­says, in­ter­views, and sto­ries that in­ves­ti­gate the pri­vate and cre­ative life of a writer and artist. ’Mem­ber­ing, by Austin Clarke, is the mem­oir of the Bar­ba­dos­born writer, long res­i­dent in Canada, and some­times called the first mul­ti­cul­tural writer of his adopted coun­try. The book ranges from child­hood rem­i­nis­cences to med­i­ta­tions on race and pol­i­tics, all told in the au­thor’s sig­na­ture lyri­cal style. Ties That Bind: The Black Fam­ily in Post-Slav­ery Ja­maica, 1834–1882, by Jenny M. Jem­mot, is a ground­break­ing his­tor­i­cal study fo­cus­ing on fam­ily re­la­tion­ships and net­works in the af­ter­math of slav­ery, chal­leng­ing long­stand­ing stereo­types and chron­i­cling black Ja­maicans’ at­tempts to re­claim au­ton­omy and dig­nity.

The win­ners in each cat­e­gory will be an­nounced on 27 March, 2016, and the Prize of US$10,000 will be pre­sented to the over­all win­ner on Satur­day 30 April at a spe­cial cer­e­mony dur­ing the sixth an­nual NGC Bo­cas Lit Fest in Port of Spain (27 April–1 May). The other two genre win­ners are awarded US$3,000.

The 2016 judg­ing pan­els for the OCM Bo­cas Prize gather dis­tin­guished Caribbean and in­ter­na­tional writ­ers, schol­ars, and edi­tors. Gemma Robin­son, UK-based editor and bi­og­ra­pher of Guyanese poet Martin Carter, chairs the po­etry panel, which in­cludes St. Lu­cian poet and cul­tural ar­chiv­ist John Robert Lee and In­dian poet and trans­la­tor Vivek Narayanan. The fic­tion panel com­prises Canada-based Trinida­dian writer Ram­abai Espinet as chair, Claire Ar­mit­stead, Lit­er­ary Editor of the UK Guardian, and Ja­maican Mar­lon James, win­ner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize and 2015 OCM Bo­cas Prize — Fic­tion. NYU-based scholar J. Michael Dash, chair of the non-fic­tion panel, is joined by Bar­bara Lalla, Pro­fes­sor Emerita of Lan­guage and Lit­er­a­ture at UWI, St. Au­gus­tine, and US-based Puerto Rican scholar Lizabeth Par­avisini-Ge­bert, bi­og­ra­pher of the Do­mini­can writer Phyl­lis Shand All­frey. The over­all chair of the 2016 cross-judg­ing panel is lauded Trinida­dian-Cana­dian writer Dionne Brand, for­mer Poet Lau­re­ate of Toronto, and the Prize vice-chair is lit­er­ary scholar Mar­jorie Thorpe.

The books Prov­i­den­tial by- Colin Chan­ner, Wife by Tiphanie Yanique and the Whale House by Sharon Mil­lar from the Boca Longlist are now avail­able at the bookYard Mas­sade Gros Islet.

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