A book award means more than money and acclaim. It signifies the respect and recognition of one’s community in the literary world. At the 2019 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, May 1-5, at NALIS Port of Spain, several award-winning writers will take the Bocas stage.
Chief among them is head judge of the 2019 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature Marina Warner, historian, short-story writer and novelist. Dame Marina, the current and first-ever female president of the Royal Society of Literature, has most recently been endowed with lifetime achievement awards from the British Academy and the World Fantasy Convention.
Joining her will be poets, fiction and non-fiction writers. The 2015 Man Booker Prize Winner Marlon James will read alongside Nalo Hopkinson, whose speculative fiction accolades include a Locus Award, a World Fantasy Award, an Andre Norton Award and a British Fantasy Award. James is also the winner of the 2015 OCM Bocas Prize (Fiction).
The youngest winner of the Forward Prize for Poetry, Danez Smith, is also expected on the festival stage. The chair of the 2018 Forward Prizes, Bidisha, praised Smith’s collection Don’t Call Us Dead as, “An astonishing formal and emotional range and a mastery of metrical, musical language.” Mexican author Yuri Herrera is also in the lineup. Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World, translated by Lisa Dillman, was the first book by a Spanish-language author to win the US$10,000 Best Translated Book Award for Fiction.
Earl Lovelace, 2012 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature winner, recipient of a Commonwealth Writers Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a NALIS Lifetime Literary Award, will read from and discuss his classic The Dragon Can't Dance, published 40 years ago. Claire Adam, whose debut novel Golden Child was selected by actress Sarah Jessica Parker for her fiction imprint, SJP for Hogarth (Penguin Random House), will also be part of this year’s festival.
Krystal Sital and her memoir Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad was hand-picked by festival founder and director Marina Salandy-Brown as a personal favourite. “Not since Harry Ladoo's No Pain Like This Body, has there been such a vivid evocation of dysfunctional family life but with the gift of hope, escape and finally triumph. A must read,” Salandy-Brown said of the memoir.
See www.bocaslitfest.com to learn more about the festival’s events and participants.