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Six Finalists Announced for Inaugural Burt Award for Caribbean Lit
Six works have been shortlisted for the inaugural Burt Award for Caribbean Literature, an initiative of the Bocas Literary Festival geared toward stimulating growth in the desert that currently represents young adult novels in the Caribbean. Among them are two manuscripts and four already published novels hailing from four islands across the English-speaking Caribbean.
Diane Browne’s Island Princess in Brooklyn (Jamaica, Carlong Publishers Caribbean), A-dZiko Simba’s All Over Again (Jamaica, Blouse & Skirt Books), Barrel Girl by Glynis Guevara (Trinidad and Tobago), Joanne Hillshouse’s Musical Youth (Antigua and Barbuda), Abraham’s Treasure by Joanne Skerrett (Dominica, Papilotte Press) and Colleen Smith Dennis’s Inner City Girl (Jamaica, LMH Publishing). Of the six, Barrel Girl and Musical Youth were both submitted manuscripts.
“In the Caribbean, as in much of the world, demand for relevant, entertaining books that speak to young people in their own language is constantly growing,” said CODE Executive Director Scott Walter. In a landscape where the available literature is dominated by imported books, the award, is therefore created with the hope to create more local literature.
“With the Award, we’re hoping to help address this demand by supporting the development of new titles that reflect the lives of their readers, while providing opportunities for promising writers to emerge and regional publishers to prosper,” Walter said. “Our ultimate goal is for young people across the Caribbean to have access to good books they will enjoy so they can develop the love of reading and become lifelong learners.”
The three winners will be announced on Friday April 25, 2014 at a Gala event to be held during the 2014 Bocas Lit Fest (April 23 - 27, 2014).
The six titles are vying for prizes of up to $10,000 CAD (first prize). The second place winner goes home with $7,000 CAD while third place will cop $5,000 CAD. Additionally, publishers of the winning titles will be awarded a guaranteed purchase of up to 2,500 copies and winning publishers also commit to actively market an additional minimum of 1,200 copies of each winning title throughout the region.
The second element is created as the Burt Award wants to ensure that the books get into the hands of young people. Titles will therefore be distributed to schools, libraries and community organizations across the Caribbean.
Marina Salandy-Brown, founder of the Bocas Lit Fest noted that the issues of marketing and distribution of Caribbean books is an important issue to be tackled.
“We are delighted to be working with CODE and William Burt in administering this exceptional prize that not only supports writers of an underserved genre in the Caribbean – young adult literature – but publishers too, and which addresses headlong the critical issue of marketing and distribution in our region,” Salandy-Brown said.
The Burt Award for Caribbean Literature was established by CODE – a Canadian charitable organization that has been advancing literacy and learning for 55 years – in collaboration with William (Bill) Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation. The Award is the result of a close collaboration with CODE’s local partners in the Caribbean, The Bocas Lit Fest and CaribLit. CODE’s Burt Award is a global readership initiative and is also currently established in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Canada.