Bocas Lit Fest's Fantastic Friday

Janine Mendes-Franco. Photos courtesy Bocas Lit Fest -
Janine Mendes-Franco. Photos courtesy Bocas Lit Fest -

“What we think of as unimaginable is simply real life for others, both far away and on our very doorstep,” says Karen Lord.

The Barbadian author, whose latest novel The Blue, Beautiful World was recently longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, will be part of a special lineup of events at the 2024 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, focused on speculative fiction and fantasy (SFF).

Dubbed Fantastic Friday – running all day on April 26 – the series explores how contemporary authors use these genres set in other worlds and other times to tackle burning issues of the here and now.

Other authors in the lineup include Grenada-born Tobias S Buckell, Caribbean-Canadian Premee Mohamed, Jamaican-Canadian Zalika Reid-Benta, and Nigerian-British Irenosen Okojie, founder of the Black to the Future festival in the UK.

“SFF teaches us to imagine the best and the worst, worlds changed beyond recognition,” says Lord, who will return to the NGC Bocas Lit Fest for the first time since 2019. “We must train our imaginations!”

She will appear alongside Mohamed in a 10.30 am session in the Old Fire Station, where both will read from and discuss their books.

Other Fantastic Friday events include writing workshops – one of which is aimed specifically at secondary-school students – an open mic for SFF authors of all levels, and a New Talent Showcase event featuring four up-and-coming TT authors in the fantasy genre: Dixie-Ann Belle, Jolanda Charles, Janine Mendes-Franco and Vindhar Suraj.

For SFF fans, Fantastic Friday is a chance to hear from and meet some of the most exciting writers in the genre at work today, with books available for sale and authors doing book signings after each event.

And for the writers themselves, it’s a chance to meet their peers, share ideas, and glean inspiration for the future.

“It’s thrilling to encounter so many award-winning authors in one space,” says Lord. “The conversations I have at Bocas with friends and colleagues are the best.”

Dixie-Ann Belle -

Fantastic Friday is just one component of the four-day 2024 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, which includes dozens more writers of all genres and a packed programme of readings, performances, workshops and more. Almost all events are free and open to all. The National Library and Old Fire Station will once more be the festival headquarters, with evening events at other venues across Port of Spain.

Fantastic Friday schedule

All events take place at the National Library and Old Fire Station in downtown Port of Spain

Sci-Fi 101, with Tobias Buckell

A special interactive writing workshop for teens! Are you a sci-fi lover? A secret or not so secret writer of fan fiction? And ready to take your writing to the next level? The New York Times-bestselling author of A Stranger in the Citadel offers practical tips and exercises to help you expand your writing imagination

10 am-12 pm, 1st Floor Seminar Room

Requires registration via schools: e-mail

Take two

The Blue Beautiful World was recently longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. -

SFF writers Karen Lord (The Blue, Beautiful World, longlisted for the 2024 Women’s Prize for Fiction) and Premee Mohamed (No One Will Come Back for Us) kick off our special day of events focused on Caribbean speculative fiction and fantasy, with readings and conversation with Akilah White

10.30-11.30 am,Old Fire Station

Stand and deliver

Aspecial version of the popular open-mic event, just for writers of speculative fiction and fantasy. Hosted by Jayron Remy

12.30-1.30 pm, Abercromby Street Arcade

Take two

SFF writers Tobias Buckell (A Stranger in the Citadel) and Irenosen Okojie (Nudibranch) read from their tales of strange realities, in conversation with Brandon O’Brien

1-2 pm, Old Fire Station

World-building 101, with Premee Mohamed

Creating a convincing and coherent imaginary world is a key task for all fiction writers – and especially those writing speculative fiction and fantasy. Where do you start, and what are the key techniques of imagination and craft?

1.30-3 pm,1st Floor Seminar Room

Registration required: $100

New talent showcase

Meet four up-and-coming fantasy writers from TT, and hear from their works in progress. Featuring Dixie-Ann Belle, Jolanda Charles, Janine Mendes-Franco and Vindhar Suraj

2-3 pm, Old Fire Station

Take two

SFF writers RSA Garcia (The Nightward) and Zalika Reid-Benta (River Mumma) explore reinventing traditional Caribbean folklore for a new generation of fantasy readers, in conversation with Breanne Mc Ivor

3-4 pm, Old Fire Station

The full festival programme is online at


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