10 Years of Highlights

Press highlights, reviews, and authors’ testimonials

The Literary Caribbean, from Bocas to Brooklyn

Naomi Jackson, LitHub, 16 September 2015

“… the greatest gift of the festival was opening my eyes and ears to the work of fellow writers living in and writing from the Caribbean. Before the festival, my literary worldview was overly focused on New York and the Anglophone Caribbean…. During the festival, I became aware of the robust, occasionally rancorous community of Caribbean writers based in the Caribbean and its diaspora. I made new writer friends whose lives are inflected by our shared Caribbean heritage but made different by our respective educations, geographies, genders, ages, privileges….”

The Literary Caribbean, From BOCAS to Brooklyn

NGC Bocas Lit Fest is in keeping with Port of Spain’s pedigree as a Caribbean writer’s heaven

Boyd Tonkin, The Independent, 25 April 2014

“Famously, Walcott the poet and Naipaul the novelist never agree on anything. But on the nourishment that Port of Spain offered them, they wholeheartedly concur. Since 2011, the city and island have hosted an annual literary week in keeping with this creative pedigree….”


Good news story: Bocas here to stay

Editorial, Trinidad Express, 28 April, 2014

“Against a sometimes-discouraging background of Trinidad and Tobago news, it is gratifying to celebrate what is demonstrably the result of persistence and drive, giving effect to vision, and translating an idea into reality…. NGC Bocas Lit Fest once again more than held its own. For a fourth year, over five richly eventful days in April 2014, the cultural and artistic calendar has been red-lettered, for an increasing number and widening variety of local and visiting readers, writers, publishers, critics, trainers, mentors, novices and veterans in Caribbean letters.”


“There and then I vowed to do something!”

Blog post by Akosua Edwards on awecapt.blogspot.com, 28 April 2014

“The festival brings together literary works from all over the Caribbean and the diaspora with a number of world renowned writers and poets. What struck me at this event was the honest and open stories of a few young men who were incarcerated from the age of 15 for an average of ten years at the Youth Training Centre (YTC). They along with their English teacher, a woman who volunteered to teach them English Literature whilst at the institution, decided to tell their story in this open, honest and wonderful piece of work called Wishing for Wings. I found myself literally weeping listening to their story! And there and then I vowed to do something!”


“Not Just About Writers”: Talking with NGC Bocas Lit Fest Founder Marina Salandy-Brown

Janine Mendes-Franco, Global Voices, 13 May 2013

“We are trying to awaken and rekindle an interest in our literary output and to make it possible for the very many people who are writing, unsupported and unknown, to feel part of a community that is large and growing….”

‘Not Just About Writers’: Talking with NGC Bocas Lit Fest Founder

From Trinidad to Guyana

Jeremy Poynting, Stabroek News, 6 May 2013

“For me, the outstanding feature of the festival, beyond the quality of the writers brought to it and the huge efficiency of the organisation, is that it is a genuinely pan-Caribbean festival with writers from all parts of the region. The enthusiastic reception of this spread of writers by a mainly Trinidadian audience is ample evidence that the ideal of Caribbean unity can exist in literature, if nowhere else.”


The Land of the Trinity Ad Infinitum

Brendan de Caires, Toronto Review of Books, 20 June, 2012

“In four days at the end of April, 2012, the festival crammed nearly 100 high- and mid-brow events into a nonstop schedule…. I left Port of Spain with the strong hope that the festival would fulfil its early promise and that it might even, in time, help the scattered fragments of West Indian humanity to recognize our own cultural and political interdependence.”

The Land of the Trinity Ad Infinitum: Diaspora Culture in Port of Spain

A robust literary festival returns

Editorial, Trinidad Guardian, 19 March 2012

“Returning literature and the notion of reading for pleasure to public discourse are entirely commendable goals and the commitment of the Bocas Lit Fest organisers to the second year of this festival and the growing engagement surrounding it has the potential to stimulate a culture of reading in the region generally and in Trinidad and Tobago specifically.”


A homecoming

Maya Jaggi, Financial Times, 27 May 2011

“Caribbean literature remains distinctively transnational. The great majority of its writers are dispersed — often reluctantly — though the pull is now from North America…. Bocas is investing wisely in a more precious export.”


T&T lit fest puts us to shame

Carolyn Cooper, Jamaica Gleaner, 8 May 2011

“The inaugural Trinidad and Tobago literary festival, which ended in fine style last Sunday, was a grand affirmation of the power of the word in all its rich diversity…. To put on a world-class literary festival, showcasing the verbal creativity of the Caribbean and the rest of the world, you need imagination, daring and a whole heap of hard work. The very same talents it takes to be a compelling writer.”


From our authors and speakers:

Barbara Jenkins, Trinidad and Tobago

Author of Sic Transit Wagon; winner of the 2012 Hollick Arvon Prize

“Bocas has brought Caribbean writing and Caribbean Diasporic writing into the global consciousness. Many of us writers here in Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean region, and in places where our people are scattered, have been empowered and recognised through Bocas…. This wonderful, magical journey was started by and was nurtured through the agency of a few brave souls who saw a need and came forward to meet it. I am immensely grateful to the Bocas team for their courage in stepping out where no one had gone before in creating an annual Literary Festival in the Caribbean whose main goal is to encourage ideas, words and expression.”

Tobias Buckell, Grenada/USA

Author of Ragamuffin and Sly Mongoose, nominated for a Nebula Award

“Thank you to Bocas Lit Fest for bringing me down. I met so many people working on great things, and promoting Caribbean literature. I was welcomed and encouraged, which is always meaningful. Any time I get to read my own work on Caribbean soil it’s emotional. And I’m not an emotional guy. But it means something.”


Ruth Borthwick, UK

Chief executive, Arvon, and Hollick Arvon Prize judge

“You have created a magnificent festival and it is a monumental achievement that has so much spirit about it. And also such a wide and embracing vision of what literature is and who can take part. When I tell people that all the events are free, they are so impressed…. For me, Bocas opens up a window on a new way of thinking about what we do and how we do it. It invigorates and nurtures my creative soul, and offers chance encounters that inspire new ideas and conversations. No other festival does this for me. Most festivals in UK are dull affairs focused only on the need to shift units. Bocas is a conversation with many strangers who have come to listen and to share, and to revel in being together.”

Irvine Welsh, UK

Author of Trainspotting

“What a marvelous festival Bocas is, and run by such lovely people.”

Philip Nanton, St. Vincent

Author of Island Voices; finalist for the Hollick Arvon Prize

“A genuine innovation for the Caribbean was the involvement of children in literature through parallel readings and workshops for them…. In general the writers were not presented as aloof paragons handing down their tablets of wisdom. Instead there was generally a friendly and informal atmosphere that opened opportunities for dialogue.”

Jane King, St. Lucia

Author of Performance Anxiety; past judge for the OCM Bocas Prize

“The problem with our Caribbean is the separateness of all our small nations. Attending the festival was a really glorious introduction to some wonderful new writers of whom I had never heard, and for that alone I would be grateful…. We are so cut off from each other that without festivals like this to bring us together, we really might never hear of each other.”

Barbara Lalla, Jamaica/Trinidad and Tobago

Author of Cascade and Uncle Brother

“It was a rich and rewarding festival that celebrated writers at ALL stages of development, recognising those starting and bringing those who are long established in touch with the rest. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward eagerly to the next. Thinking of doing this — let alone bringing it off — was a most valuable contribution to Caribbean letters.”

Lorna Goodison, Jamaica

Author of Oracabessa, 2014 winner of the OCM Bocas Prize for Poetry

“I thought it was one of the best literary festivals that I’ve ever been to. It was just the right balance of readings and workshops. I can’t think of anything I would change about it. I feel very energised for coming”. 

Debbie Jacob, Trinidad & Tobago, Journalist and Author of Wishing for Wings

“This is not your old-fashioned concept of a literary festival where authors merely stand up and read passages from their books. The Bocas Lit Fest offers a wide array of events showcasing authors, the craft of writing and the world that Caribbean and international writers capture. This is a remarkable literature festival; a dazzling prism to the world of literature.”