Books matter. They shape our society, preserve our culture, tell our stories, educate and entertain us. Which is why Newsday is partnering with the Bocas Lit Fest and NALIS to introduce a book prize that will have the distinction of being chosen by the people.
Readers will be able to vote for the People’s Choice T&T Book of the Year online. The winning writer must be a citizen and resident of Trinidad and Tobago. She or he will receive $5,000 courtesy Newsday and a subscription to the paper’s online edition N-Touch.
Despite much doom and gloom over its future, the book remains alive and well in Trinidad and Tobago. While traditional booksellers are propped up by the sale of educational texts, readers continue to demonstrate a taste for wide range of fiction, poetry and non-fiction.
Though local publishing remains in a nascent state, there is a booming self-publishing arena that sees books sold online and sometimes voraciously consumed. The People’s Choice T&T Book of the Year will apply to books published both locally and abroad, shining a spotlight on this realm.
Now more than ever it’s important to preserve our culture and to tell our stories. Dramatic shifts in political and technological landscapes globally have reshaped the way we relate with one another, creating new opportunities but also opening new dangers. Books encourage critical thinking and inform social discourse. They play a vital role in bolstering understanding. Additionally, they can also help open the door to cultural synergies and diversified revenue streams. The recent local film Green Days by the River was based on a novel by local author Michael Anthony.
It is also important to acknowledge and encourage more local books given literary rates. While Trinidad and Tobago has enjoyed a steady growth in our literacy rate, which stood 99 per cent as of 2015 according to UNESCO, about one in four people remain unable to cope with everyday reading and writing, according to literacy NGO, Alta.
There is need for the State to continue programmes such as the Leading for Literary Now programme in the Ministry of Education. Local books and local authors are essential if we are to turn a new page in relation to these matters.
That is why Newsday is proud to be partners with them.