Two novels and two books of short stories vie in the fiction category. Earl Lovelace’s Is Just A Movie, with its full cast of lively Trinidadian characters, is a gentle and often hilarious story of resilience, while Tessa McWatt’s Vital Signs is a poignant tale of love, marriage, and family dynamics. Keith Jardim’s short fiction collection Near Open Water offers clear-eyed tales of postcolonial Caribbean societies, and Merle Collins’sThe Ladies Are Upstairs, the other short story collection on the list, deals with questions of diaspora, lost parents, and those left behind. The judges single out two further books for special mention: Olive Senior’sDancing Lessons, the moving reflections of an old woman on her life, and Victoria Brown’s compelling story of the immigrant experience, Minding Ben.
In the poetry category, Fawzia Kane’s debut collection Tantie Diablesse, drawing on Trinidad and Tobago’s folkloric characters, is up against Loretta Collins Klobah’s collection The Twelve-Foot Neon Woman, a lyrically playful and subversive exploration of Caribbean history, and Shara McCallum’s This Strange Land, evoking the Jamaica of her childhood. As in the fiction category, two further books receive special mention:Redemption Rain, by Trinidadian poet Jennifer Rahim, and Rubber Orchestras, by London-based Trinidadian Anthony Joseph.
The non-fiction category brings together Basil Ince’s historical survey Olympian: 75 Years of Trinidad & Tobago in Olympic Sport; Caryl Phillips’s Colour Me English, a collection of essays ranging from memoir to literature and politics; and a biography of the father of Belizean independence, George Price: A Life Revealed, by first-time biographer and former Attorney-General of Belize Godfrey P. Smith.
The judges read 45 books entered for the Prize, which is open to books by Caribbean writers published in the previous calendar year, and comes with an award of US$10,000. The winners in the three genre categories will be announced on 16 March, and the Prize will be presented on 28 April, during the second annual NGC Bocas Lit Fest in Port of Spain.
Further information on the OCM Bocas Prize here.