More Than A Literary Festival

Five Bocas writers go to the Brooklyn Book Festival

bocas at brooklyn book festival 2016

The eminent Jamaican writer Olive Senior, winner of the 2016 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, will head the bill at a special event in New York City, hosted by the NGC Bocas Lit Fest at the Brooklyn Book Festival in September 2016.

This is the fourth time Bocas has hosted an event showcasing contemporary Caribbean writers at the Brooklyn Book Festival, which is the largest free literary festival in New York City.

Senior, who will read from her award-winning book The Pain Tree, will be joined at the BKBF event by Tiphanie Yanique of the US Virgin Islands and Jacqueline Bishop of Jamaica, the respective winners of the 2016 OCM Bocas Prize categories for poetry and non-fiction. This was the first year in the history of the prize — the Caribbean’s most prestigious literary award, sponsored by One Caribbean Media — that all three genre categories were won by women writers.

Two emerging writers from Trinidad and Tobago will complete the lineup for the event: fiction writer Sharon Millar, winner of the 2013 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, and poet Shivanee Ramlochan, whose work is featured in the recent anthology Coming Up Hot, a collection of some of the most promising emerging poets in the Caribbean.

The five writers will read from and discuss their work on the evening of Wednesday 14 September at the Old Stone House, a cultural venue in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Titled “Write This in Fire: Five Burning Voices from the Caribbean”, the event will showcase the power and diversity of two generations of Caribbean women writers — and also pay tribute to the late Jamaican author Michelle Cliff, who died in June 2016.

The Bocas evening is just one in a rich programme of Bookends events to be staged throughout Brooklyn, in the week leading up to the main day of the 2016 BKBF on Sunday 18 September. Both Olive Senior and Sharon Millar will also appear in the Sunday programme, alongside literary luminaries from around the world.

“New York is a major Caribbean literary city, thanks to the many Caribbean readers and writers who live there, part of our region’s vast diaspora,” says Nicholas Laughlin, programme director of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest. “Part of our mission at Bocas is to promote Caribbean writers, wherever they are, to new audiences. The Brooklyn Book Festival is a wonderful opportunity to do just that. We’re thrilled to be returning there this year, and with such an extraordinary group of authors.”

Also participating in the festival is Guyanese Imam Baksh, 2015 winner of CODE’s Burt Award for Caribbean Literature, which recognises books for young adult readers. Other Caribbean writers in the BKBF programme include the debut Jamaican author Nicole Dennis-Benn, with her novel Here Comes the Sun; the Cuban sci-fi novelist Yoss; and Jamaica-born poet Claudia Rankine, whose multi-award-winning book Citizen is a searing investigation of racial tensions in the contemporary United States.

For more information about the Brooklyn Book Festival programme, visit

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