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Eight Finalists Announced for Hollick Arvon Prize 2014

Hollick Arvon Prize

Four writers from Trinidad and Tobago, two from Jamaica and one each from Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are vying for the 2014 Hollick Arvon Prize for emerging writers. These eight rising Caribbean voices were recently announced as the finalists for the eminent award.  

The finalists were whittled down from a field of 27 entrants who submitted to the second installation of the competition, which this year has a focus on non-fiction writing.  

Diana McCaulay with Loving Jamaica and Nadine McNeil with The Plight of the Humanitarian Aid Worker, are the writers emerging from Jamaica while Grenada is represented by Judy Antoine (Turn Around). 

The writers hailing from Trinidad and Tobago are Melissa Balgobin (Let It Fly), Rhoda Bharath (Split Level), Ira Mathur (17 Rest House Road) and Judy Raymond (Richard Bridgens). 

Armed with his work Canouan Suite, Philip Nanton, is not only the sole representative of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but also the only male in a bevy of female writers. 

Marina Salandy-Brown Festival Director, Bocas Literary Festival“In 2013 we had fewer male writers entering their work for fiction, but this year there were six, which is a much higher proportion of male entrants for this non-fiction genre of writing, even though only one of them made it onto the list of finalists,” remarked Marina Salandy-Brown, festival director of the Bocas Literary Festival and co-founder of the Prize.

The Hollick Arvon Prize worth US$15,000. A multi-tiered offering, the prize, administered by the Bocas Lit Fest, is designed to provide the winning writer with time to advance their work as well as provide mentorship by an established author. 

The winning writer also has the opportunity to attend a one-week intensive creative writing course at Arvon  in the UK as well as receives a cash award of US$4,500. Networking opportunities are also tied into the prize. As such, the winner will have three days in London to network with literary professionals, hosted by the UK’s leading creative writing organisation, Arvon, in association with Free Word Centre and agents Rogers, Coleridge & White. Rogers, Coleridge and White have first option of agenting the winning writer.

“[W]e were impressed by the general high quality of the works submitted,” said Professor Funso Aiyejina, chair of the international panel of judges. Prof. Aieyejina also pointed out that the writings range from the academic to the persona and were directed at adult as well as children and young adult audiences. 

“Many of the works were eloquent, insightful, passionate and exciting,” Prof Aieyejina said. “Some entries were very ambitious in scope but managed to remain focused on their subject matters. The judges are convinced that the works in contention for the prize venture beyond the safe shores of established themes and promise to create new boundaries for the Caribbean non-fiction genre.”

The judging panel also comprises Lord Hollick, sponsor of the award; Godfrey Smith, 2012 non-fiction winner of the OCM Bocas Prize; Ruth Borthwick of Arvon; and London literary agent Jennifer Hewson.

The winner will be announced on Saturday, April 26, during the NGC Bocas Lit Fest. The 2014 edition of the annual festival runs 23 to 27 April at the Trinidad and Tobago National Library, Port of Spain.