The OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature

The 2020 OCM Bocas Prize is open for entries

About the 2020 OCM Bocas Prize

This is a major award for literary books by Caribbean writers. Books are judged in three categories: poetry; fiction — both novels and collections of short stories; and literary non-fiction — including books of essays, biography and autobiography, history, current affairs, travel, and other genres, which demonstrate literary qualities and use literary techniques, regardless of subject matter. 

There is a panel of three judges for each category, who determine category shortlists and winners. The three category winners are then judged by a panel of four judges — consisting of the chairs of the category panels and the prize chair — who will determine the overall winner.

The author of the book judged overall winner will receive an award of US$10,000. The other category winners will receive awards of US$3,000.

To be eligible for the 2020 OCM Bocas Prize, a book must:

  1. Have been first published in the calendar year 2019 (1 January to 31 December);
  2. Have been written by a single author who either holds Caribbean citizenship or was born in the Caribbean (this must be verified by the publisher), regardless of current place of residence;
  3. Have been written by an author who is living on 31 December, 2019;
  4. Have been written and first published in English originally (i.e. translations are not eligible);
  5. Be a new work, previously unpublished in book form (though collections including poems, stories, essays, or other short pieces that have individually appeared in print in periodicals or anthologies are eligible).

For full eligibility and submission guidelines, download the OCM Bocas Prize 2020 Guidelines and Entry Form.

Books published before 31 October 2019 must be delivered to The Bocas Lit Fest by 13 November 2019. Only books published between 31 October and 31 December 2019 will be accepted for entry by the second deadline, 8 January 2020. 

Judges for the 2020 Prize

Earl Lovelace, Chief Judge   Author, Trinidad & Tobago


Laurence Breiner, Chair    Author and scholar, United States

Sandeep Parmar,   Poet and scholarUnited Kingdom

Rajiv Mohabir,   Poet, United States


Barbara Lalla, Chair    Author and scholar, Jamaica/ Trinidad &Tobago

Sharon Leach   Author, Jamaica

Candida Lacey   Publisher, United Kingdom


Bridget Brereton, Chair    Author and scholar, Trinidad and Tobago

Grace Aneiza Ali    Curator, writer and editor, Guyana (based in the United States)

Ursula Owen    Publisher andeditor, United Kingdom  

OCM Bocas Prize Winners 2011 - 2019

OCM Bocas Prize 2019 shortlist covers

POETRY: Doe Songs, by Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné (Peepal Tree Press)

FICTION:Theory, by Dionne Brand (Penguin Random House Canada)

NON-FICTION & OVERALL WINNER: High Mas: Carnival and the Poetics of Caribbean Culture, by Kevin Adonis Browne (University Press of Mississippi)


books shortlisted for 2018 ocm bocas prize


POETRY: Madwoman, by Shara McCallum (Peepal Tree Press/Alice James Books)

FICTION & OVERALL WINNER: Curfew Chronicles, by Jennifer Rahim (Peepal Tree Press)

NON-FICTION: There was no non-fiction winner for 2018, as the judges did not believe any of the eligible books “could be held to represent the best of regional writing.”

2017 ocm shortlist covers

POETRY: Cannibal, by Safiya Sinclair (University of Nebraska Press)

FICTION & OVERALL WINNER: Augustown, by Kei Miller (Weidenfeld and Nicolson)

NON-FICTION: Virtual Glimpses into the Past/A Walk Back in Time: Snapshots of the History of Trinidad and Tobago, by Angelo Bissessarsingh (Queen Bishop Publishing)


2016 OCM Bocas Prize winners

Books shortlisted for the 2016 OCM Bocas Prize

POETRY: Tiphanie Yanique: Wife (Peepal Tree Press)
FICTION and OVERALL PRIZE: Olive Senior: The Pain Tree (Cormorant Books)
NON-FICTION: Jacqueline Bishop: The Gymnast and Other Positions (Peepal Tree Press)

2015 OCM Bocas Prize winners

ocm bocas prize 2015 shortlist covers

POETRY and OVERALL PRIZE: Vladimir Lucien: Sounding Ground (Peepal Tree Press)
FICTION: Marlon James: A Brief History of Seven Killings (Riverhead)
NON-FICTION: Olive Senior: Dying to Better Themselves: West Indians and the Building of the Panama Canal (UWI Press)

  2014 OCM Bocas Prize winners

ocm bocas shortlist covers larger

FICTION and OVERALL PRIZE: Robert Antoni: As Flies to Whatless Boys (Akashic Books)
POETRY: Lorna Goodison: Oracabessa (Carcanet)
NON-FICTION: Kei Miller: Writing Down the Vision: Essays and Prophecies (Peepal Tree Press)

 2013 OCM Bocas Prize winners

Books shortlisted for the 2013 OCM Bocas Prize

POETRY: Fault Lines, by Kendel Hippolyte (Peepal Tree Press)
FICTION and OVERALL PRIZE: Archipelago, by Monique Roffey (Simon and Schuster)
NON-FICTION: The Sky’s Wild Noise: Selected Essays, by Rupert Roopnaraine (Peepal Tree Press)


 2012 OCM Bocas Prize winners


POETRY: The Twelve-Foot Neon Woman, by Loretta Collins Klobah (Peepal Tree Press)
FICTION and OVERALL PRIZE: Is Just a Movie, by Earl Lovelace (Faber)
NON-FICTION: George Price: A Life Revealed, by Godfrey P. Smith (Ian Randle Publishers)

2011 OCM Bocas Prize winners


POETRY and OVERALL PRIZE: White Egrets, by Derek Walcott (Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
FICTION: How to Escape from a Leper Colony, by Tiphanie Yanique (Graywolf)
NON-FICTION: Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work, by Edwidge Danticat (Princeton)