Curfew Chronicles, a collection of linked short stories by writer Jennifer Rahim of Trinidad and Tobago, has been named the winner of the 2018 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, the most prestigious international award for Caribbean writing.
Evelyn O’Callaghan, chair of the fiction judges of the prize, made the announcement at a ceremony on the night of Saturday 28 April, during the 2018 NGC Bocas Lit Fest.
Sponsored by One Caribbean Media, the prize comes with an award of US$10,000. A highlight of the annual festival, the OCM Bocas Prize ceremony was held in Port of Spain’s historic Old Fire Station.
Curfew Chronicles was chosen by the judges from a shortlist of two books, which also included Madwoman by Jamaican Shara McCallum. As poetry winner, McCallum received an award of US$3,000.
Jennifer Rahim is a widely published poet, fiction writer, and literary critic. Her poetry collection Approaching Sabbaths (2009) was awarded a 2010 Casa de las Américas Prize. She has published one previous book of short fiction, Songster and Other Stories (2007).
Set during a fictionalised version of Trinidad and Tobago’s 2011 State of Emergency, Curfew Chronicles is a series of linked short stories unfolding over a period of twenty-four hours, with a cast of interconnected characters from all levels of society.
“This must surely rank as one of the most ambitious books ever attempted by a Caribbean writer,” remarked Lorna Goodison. “The philosophical, moral and religious themes and ideas put forward about community in all its many manifestations are lightly, deftly handled…. Readers are rewarded by moments of sheer grace; and numinous revelations at every turn.”
In addition to Goodison, the final judging panel for the prize included UK-based Trinidadian poet Vahni Capildeo, Barbados-based Jamaican scholar Evelyn O’Callaghan, and writer Judy Raymond, editor of the T&T Newsday.
2018 is the eighth year of the OCM Bocas Prize. In 2017, the prize was won by Jamaican writer Kei Miller for his novel Augustown. Other past winners are Olive Senior for her short fiction collection The Pain Tree (2016); Vladimir Lucien for his debut poetry collection Sounding Ground (2015); Robert Antoni for his novel As Flies to Whatless Boys (2014); Monique Roffey for Archipelago (2013); and Earl Lovelace for Is Just a Movie (2012). The late Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott was winner of the inaugural prize in 2011, for his poetry collection White Egrets.