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Bocas Literary Prize 2017 Longlist Announced

2017 Bocas Prize Longlist

The 2017 Longlist for the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature has been announced and it is dominated by younger writers from the region, with six Jamaican writers included on the list of nine. Now in it’s seventh year, the OCM Bocas Prize awards works of poetry, fiction and literary non-fiction. 

The 2017 poetry longlist features three Jamaican writers. Safiya Sinclair’s Cannibal, explores Jamaican childhood, girlhood and otherness; Kingston Buttercup by Ann-Margaret Lim penetrates contemporary Kingston and the legacy of slavery; and Ishion Hutchinson’s House of Lords and Commons engages with personal and communal history and the literary canon.

“We were delighted to read a set of poetry collections remarkable for their range of focus and poetic method,” said the prize judges in a release. “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.”

This year’s fiction prize is being contested by two Jamaicans and a Trinidadian. Kevin Jared Hosein’s (Trinidad) The Repenters, an exploration of the “darkest side of Trinidadian society and family history. Marcia Douglas’ brings magical realism into the fray with The Marvellous Equations of the Dread. Kei Miller’s Augustown is the third longlisted novel. The listing, Miller’s fourth, makes him the first writer to have been longlisted in all three categories. Miller won the non-fiction prize in 2014 with Writing Down the Vision and has twice been longlisted for poetry with The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion and A Light Song in a Book of Light.

The longlisted works of non-fiction feature three historical studies from Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica. Hilary Beckles’ The First Black Slave Society: Britain’s ‘Barbarity Time in Barbados, 1636 - 1876’ is described as “a compelling history of the first 140 years of the colonisation of Barbados” that resonates with contemporary discussions about reparations. Angelo Bissessarsingh’s Virtual Glimpses Into the Past and A Walk Back in Time, provides a collection of “... vignettes from the history of Trinidad and Tobago, offering an effortless read for those for whom the past is a forgotten country...” the final longlisted work is Colin Palmer’s Inward Yearnings: Jamaica’s Journey to Nationhood

This year’s adjudication panel is helmed by Edward Baugh as overall chair. David Dabydeen chairs the poetry panel, while Susheila Nasta chairs the fiction panel and Kim Robinson Walcott chairs non-fiction. Other panel members comprise Nancy Morejon and Peter Straus (poetry), Mlaika Adero and H. Nigel Thomas (fiction), and Patricia Mohammed and Aaron Kamugisha (non-fiction).

The shortlist naming the category winners will be announced on March 27, 2017 and the overall winner will be announced at the 2017 edition of the festival in Port of Spain, Saturday, April 29, 2017. The overall prize is US$10,000.