Ten writers representing six different countries are in the running for the 2011 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, sponsored by One Caribbean Media. The Prize longlist, announced by the judges on 28 February, 2011, includes three books of poetry, four of fiction, and three of non-fiction. The writers range from Nobel laureates to debut authors.
In the poetry category, the three contenders are all extended meditations on themes of memory, loss, and hope. Kamau Brathwaite’s elegiac and typographically complex Elegguas joins Kei Miller’s uplifting collectionA Light Song of Light and Nobel laureate Derek Walcott’s White Egrets, which muses over age and mortality.
Three novels and a book of short fiction vie in the fiction category. Myriam Chancy’s The Loneliness of Angels, steeped in Haitian history, charts human connections across gulfs of time and space. Karen Lord’sRedemption in Indigo, inspired by a Senegalese folktale, plays with the conventions of traditional storytelling. Rabindranath Maharaj’s The Amazing Absorbing Boy offers a fresh take on the Caribbean migrant experience. And Tiphanie Yanique’s How to Escape a Leper Colony lyrically explores its characters’ emotional intimacy.
The non-fiction category brings together Beauty and Sadness, a collection of literary criticism and memoir by Andre Alexis; Edwidge Danticat’s Create Dangerously, a series of essays on the role of the “immigrant artist”; and Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul’s travel narrative The Masque of Africa, which investigates the survival of indigenous religious beliefs on the continent.
The judges read approximately sixty books entered for the Prize, which will be presented for the first time in 2011. The OCM Bocas Prize is open to books by Caribbean writers published in the previous calendar year, and comes with an award of US$10,000. The winners in the three genre categories will be announced on 28 March, and the Prize will be presented on 30 April, during the first annual Bocas Lit Fest in Port of Spain