More Than A Literary Festival

The CODE Burt Award Shortlist

CODE and The Bocas Lit Fest are proud to announce the shortlist for the 6th CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature, which recognises talent and helps develop the careers of authors writing for 12-18 year old Caribbean readers.

The international jury, administered by The Bocas Lit Fest, has selected a shortlist of 6 titles from 46 submissions of both published books and unpublished manuscripts by authors from across 10 Caribbean countries. Four of the six are Trinidadian authors.

Action, adventure, fantasy, myth, and forbidden love are some of the themes that feature in the shortlist. The judges were effusive in their praise for the quality of the writing, the credibility of the characters and the effectiveness of the plots in these six titles. Their comments on the entries range from “haunting” and “dark” to “enjoyable, fun, educational” and “ground breaking”.

The shortlisted titles are:

Jomo’s Story by Nastassian Brandon (Jamaica)

The Unmarked Girl by Jeanelle Frontin (Trinidad and Tobago)

The Accidental Prize by Tamika Gibson (Trinidad and Tobago)

The Mermaid Pools by Rehannah Azeeyah Khan (Trinidad and Tobago)

Daylight Come by Diana McCaulay (Jamaica)

Rise Of The Clearrock by Celia Sankar/ S.P. Claret (Trinidad and Tobago)

The winner and up to two finalists will be announced at a special event for students at the NGC Bocas Lit Fest in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 1-5 May. The winning title will be awarded $10,000 CDN, and up to two finalists will be awarded $2,000 CDN each.

Established by CODE ­– a Canadian charitable organization that has been advancing literacy and learning for 60 years – with the generous support of William (Bill) Burt and in partnership with the Bocas Lit Fest, the award recognizes excellent, engaging and culturally-relevant literature for an underserved readership.

The 2018 winning manuscript The Dark of the Sea by Imam Baksh, and the two finalists, My Fishy Stepmom by Shakirah Bourne and A Dark Iris by Elizabeth J. Jones, are due for publication in May 2019 by Jamaican publisher Blue Banyan Books. CODE has purchased two thousand copies of each title to be distributed through local partners in the region to schools, libraries, and community organisations to ensure Caribbean youth have access to exciting new books, at least for a little while longer.

CODE and The Bocas Lit Fest have also announced that this (2019) is the final year of the Burt Award for Caribbean YA literature, since the Award’s sponsor, Canadian philanthropist Bill Burt, died in 2017 and his Foundation has decided to change its sponsorship focus. The two organisations have started the search for a replacement donor.

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