Trinidadian writer Andre Bagoo, a former Newsday reporter, has won the non-fiction category of the 2021 OCM Bocas prize for Caribbean Literature and joins the shortlist of three finalists for the overall award of US$10,000.
Bagoo's The Undiscovered Country, a collection of essays, was praised by the judges as"a wonderfully intelligent and wide-ranging book."
"There’s a touch of humour in much of this book, with some essays focused on particular works of art, and others telescoping out to analyse pressing political questions. Innovative and insightful, knowledgeable about both film and fiction, written by an author who is up front about surveying literature and politics as a gay man, it's much more than a collection of essays.”
Jamaican-born, US-based Maisy Card won the fiction category, while Canada-based St Lucian Canisia Lubrin is the winner of the poetry category.
The judges said Card's novel These Ghosts Are Family was a fresh take on the legacy of slavery in the Caribbean.
“At its heart is the story of Caribbean enslavement and the legacy of trauma it has passed down from generation to generation, but the way it tackled this live and current theme was always fresh and innovative. The novel, across chapters, consistently surprised with the courses it took and the outcomes of its scenes – the control over the material evident from the earliest chapters.”
On Lubrin's second collection Dyzgraphxst. the judges said they were "not easy poems."
They said, “Reading this collection makes you hold your breath and dive to the ocean-floor and emerge riding the waves… a concern for our world, and a speaking out against exploitation and climate disaster remain central, intact, and allow necessity to direct the experimentation. These are not easy poems, but there is undeniable music to them, a tidal ebb and flow beneath the complexities of language and questions of identity, place and environmental concerns.”
The overall winner will be announced on April 24, during the Winners’ Row celebratory event of the virtual 2021 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, available for viewing at www.bocaslitfest.com.
The 2021 chief judge is Vahni Capildeo, renowned Trinidadian, UK-based writer and 2016 Forward Poetry Prize winner. Respective chairs of the poetry, fiction, and non-fiction panels Opal Palmer Adisa, Jamaican poet, Malachi McIntosh, editor of the journal Wasafiri, and Rosamond S King, a Trinidadian-American writer and scholar, will join her to choose the overall winner.
The 2021 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, which runs from April 23-25 will take place for free online.