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Marlon James, Olive Senior and Vladimir Lucien Shortlisted for 2015 Bocas Prize

OCM Bocas Prize 2015 Shortlist

The shortlist of the 2015 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean literature, featuring three writers in different stages of their careers has been announced. St. Lucian poet Vladimir Lucien was brought to the list by his debut collection Sounding Ground, while Jamaican Marlon James came with his third novel A Brief History of Seven Killings. Celebrated veteran of the pen, Olive Senior (Jamaica) completes the triangle with Dying to Better Themselves: West Indians and the Building of the Panama Canal.

The Bocas Prize shortlist consists of the category winner for each segment, who will then vie for the grand prize of US10,000.00, which will be announced on May 2, 2015 as a part of the 2015 Bocas Lit Fest.

Senior’s Dying to Better Themselves (UWI Press) came out as the winner of the non-fiction prize, ahead of fellow longlistees Elizabeth Nunez (Not For Everyday Use, Akashic) and Dorbrene E. O’Marde (Shot Shirt: Nobody Go Run Me, Hansib).

Lucien’s Sounding Ground (Peepal Tree Press) made its way to the head of a list representing some of the region’s most impressive young voices. The poetry longlist also featured Kei Miller (The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion, Carcanet) and Tanya Shirley (The Merchant of Feathers, Peepal Tree). 

Marlon James (A Brief History of Seven Killings, Riverhead) came out on top ahead of the 2013 winner of the OCM Bocas Prize, Monique Roffey (House of Ashes, Simon and Schuster) and winner of the 2011 fiction prize Tiphanie Yanique (Land of Love and Drowning, Riverhead). 

Interestingly, with the exception of the inaugural prize, which was won by Derek Walcott (2011), the overall prize has been swept away by the fiction nominee. Should this trend continue, it would be the first time that a Jamaican has earned the overall prize. Indeed, this year’s prize is gearing up to be only the second time it has been won by a non-Trinidadian.

The 2015 panel of judges is chaired by Austin Clarke. The three panels of judges featured: Carolyn Cooper (Chair), Silvio Torres-Saillant and Bhaskar Sunkara for non-fiction; Clare Alexander (Chair), Nalo Hopkinson and Ria Julien for fiction; and Larence Breiner (Chair), Pamela Mordecai and Patience Agbabi for poetry.

The shortlist was announced today, April 1, 2015 and the winner of the 2015 Bocas Prize will be announced on Saturday, May 2, during the 2015 Bocas Lit Fest.