Two emerging Jamaican writers, one from Grenada, one from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and four from Trinidad and Tobago are the eight finalists for the much-coveted 2014 Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize, now in its second year.
Turn Around, Judy Antoine, Grenada
Let It Fly, Melissa Balgobin, Trinidad and Tobago
Split Level, Rhoda Bharath, Trinidad and Tobago
17 Rest House Road, Ira Mathur, Trinidad and Tobago
Loving Jamaica, Diana McCaulay, Jamaica
The Plight of the Humanitarian Aid Worker, Nadine McNeil, Jamaica
Canouan Suite, Philip Nanton, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Richard Bridgens, Judy Raymond, Trinidad and Tobago
The Prize, administered by the Bocas Lit Fest and worth a total of US$15,000, will give the winning Caribbean-based writer time to advance a non-fiction work in progress. It includes a year’s mentoring by an established author and travel to the United Kingdom to attend a one-week intensive creative writing course of their choice at Arvon.
The winning writer will also receive a cash award of £3,000 or US$4,500, and have three days in London to network with literary professionals, hosted by the UK’s leading creative writing organisation, Arvon, in association with Free Word Centre and agents Rogers, Coleridge & White, who have first option of agenting the winning writer.
It was a blind competition among 27 entrants. “We had no idea who we were judging and we were impressed by the general high quality of the works submitted. They ranged from the academic to the personal and were generally imbued with original insights. Many of the works were directed at adult audiences but some were aimed at children and young adults,” said UWI Professor Funso Aiyejina, chair of the international judging panel of five, which includes Lord Hollick, sponsor of the award; Godfrey Smith, 2012 non-fiction winner of the OCM Bocas Prize; Ruth Borthwick of Arvon; and London literary agent Jennifer Hewson.
A statement from the judges reads, “Many of the works were eloquent, insightful, passionate and exciting. Some entries were very ambitious in scope but managed to remain focused on their subject matters. The judges are convinced that the works in contention for the prize venture beyond the safe shores of established themes and promise to create new boundaries for the Caribbean non-fiction genre.”
Marina Salandy-Brown, festival director and co-founder of the Prize, remarked the gender mix of Prize entrants. “In 2013 we had fewer male writers entering their work for fiction, but this year there were six, which is a much higher proportion of male entrants for this non-fiction genre of writing, even though only one of them made it onto the list of finalists.”
The winner will be announced at the 2014 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, Trinidad and Tobago’s annual literary festival, which runs from 23 to 27 April in Port of Spain at the National Library.