From a longlist of ten impressive titles, this year’s Prize judges have whittled down a shortlist of three books, by a prolific Commonwealth Writers’ Prize–winning storyteller, a professor of Caribbean literature and creative writing, and a political analyst and lawyer who served as the Attorney General of Belize.
The three books, already winners in their respective genre categories, now vie for the overall 2012 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, including an award of US$10,000, which will be presented on Saturday 28 April during the second annual NGC Bocas Lit Fest.
Trinidadian novelist, playwright, and short-story writer Earl Lovelace is the 2012 fiction category winner for his sixth novel, Is Just a Movie, hailed as “intensely poetic and lyrical.” The judges also describe the work as “a tapestry of island history . . . steeped in place and full of beautifully realised characters.”
Winning the poetry category is The Twelve-Foot Neon Woman, the debut book by Puerto Rican writer and professor Loretta Collins Klobah. The judges praised the collection as displaying a “hard-earned maturity of poetic spirit,” calling the title poem “a tour de force of the historical and cultural imagination.”
Belizean politician, columnist, and attorney Godfrey P. Smith is the winner in the non-fiction category, for his biography of Belize’s first prime minister, George Price: A Life Revealed. It is a “well crafted narrative that mixes affection and gratitude with something like awe,” the judges remarked, defining the book as a deft exploration of George Price’s “eccentric genius and political acumen.”
Speaking about the 2012 OCM Bocas Prize shortlist, founder and festival director Marina Salandy-Brown noted: “Again this year we have previously unpublished authors lining up with an acknowledged literary star for the Prize. Godfrey Smith is a newcomer and Loretta Collins Klobah’s collection of poetry is her first. The Prize is bringing great writing by new and established writers to the attention of a wider audience, which is what we set out to do.”
The 2011 Prize was won by Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott, for his most recent poetry collection, White Egrets. Tiphanie Yanique’s debut short story collection How to Escape from a Leper Colony won the 2011 fiction category, and Edwidge Danticat’s Create Dangerously the non-fiction category.
The OCM Bocas Prize, now in its second year, is open to books that were published in the previous calendar year by writers of Caribbean birth or citizenship. The 2012 panel of judges boasts a gathering of eminent authors and academics based both in the Caribbean and abroad, and is chaired by the Barbadian writer George Lamming.