Bocas Lit Fest

Congratulations to Trinidad and Tobago writer Amanda Choo Quan on winning the 2020 Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize (JAAWP)! 

Choo Quan was shortlisted along with two other TT non-fiction writers, Melissa Doughty and Amílcar Sanatan, in this second year of the Prize, which is dedicated to the advancement of new Caribbean voices. The Prize will afford Choo Quan the opportunity to progress her winning work of non-fiction.

In an official Bocas Lit Fest announcement broadcast via Facebook Live, Choo Quan was announced winner of the JAAWP by Chief Judge Funso Aiyejina. The actual prize-giving will take place during the annual national literary festival, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, now rescheduled to September 18 to 20.

Choo Quan’s submission was summarised by Prof Emeritus Aiyejina as having, “Excelled because of the eloquence of the writing, the honesty of the emotions, the concreteness of the imagery, the transformative energy of the story, and the writer’s ability to weave the personal and the political, the ‘there’ and the ‘here’, and the ‘then’ and the ‘now’ into a seamless story.”

Launched in 2018, the Prize is sponsored by Dr Kongshiek Achong Low, medical practitioner and Chairman of Medcorp Limited in memory of his parents, Johnson and Amoy Achong, and is administered by The Bocas Lit Fest in Trinidad and Arvon in the UK.  In the first year (fiction) Sharma Taylor of Jamaica was the winner. The 2021 Prize will be open to writers of poetry.

Dr Achong Low commented, “I am indeed delighted to hear that this year’s JAAWP Non-Fiction winner is a Trini.”  He added, “The quarantine and self-isolation measures demanded to combat the ravages of the Covid situation have in no small measure demonstrated the immense value of the written word to mankind. The massive sharing of written works via social media and the popularity of the streaming giants like Netflix all remind us of the unquestioned power of writing to stimulate our minds and to entertain.”

In addition to the equivalent of US$3,000 and travel to the United Kingdom to attend a one-week intensive Arvon creative writing course at one of Arvon’s internationally renowned writing houses, each JAAWP winner spends three days in London to network with editors and publishers, hosted by Arvon in association with the Free Word Centre. Winners are also mentored by an established writer in the genre and will get the chance to be agented by a literary agency in the UK.

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