More Than A Literary Festival

Bocas Book Bulletin: March 2024

Welcome to the latest installment of the Bocas Book Bulletin, a monthly roundup of Caribbean literary news, curated by the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, Trinidad and Tobago’s annual literary festival, and published in the Sunday Express.

New Releases

Son of Grace: Frank Worrell (Fairfield Books) by Vaneisa Baksh presents the remarkable life, on and off the cricket field, of Jamaican all-rounder Frank Worrell. Published a hair’s breadth away from the centenary of Worrell’s birth, Son of Grace tracks the pioneering cricketer’s significant strides made in the game, against jarring social and racial inequities. Baksh illustrates how Worrell — the first Black man to hold a West Indies captaincy — led sports teams and wider communities with a consummately fair-minded ethos.

Code Noir (Knopf Canada) is the fiction debut of the 2021 OCM Bocas Prize winner, St. Lucian Canisia Lubrin. Taking the real-life 1685 “Code Noir” edicts of France’s King Louis XIV as their departure point, the fifty-nine linked fictional works that amalgamate into Lubrin’s Code Noir investigate the roots of Blackness and belonging. Each of these “articles” is prefaced by a black-and-white drawing by acclaimed interdisciplinary artist Torkwase Dyson. The result is experimentally visionary work, made of memory and imagination.

Tanglewood (Luna Press Publishing), Knicky L. Abbott’s debut novella, is set in a fictional 1840s Barbados. Incorporating the Barbadian folklore figure of the Steel Donkey into its speculative worldbuilding, Tanglewood presents star-crossed lovers linked by station and circumstance to a stately manor. Envisioned as a response to Beauty and the Beast, the novella develops into a postcolonial reckoning with the darker elements of romance, alongside a history of the impoverished Irish descendants, often called “redlegs”, who made Barbados their home.

The Chaos (New Walk Editions) is the debut poetry pamphlet by 2021 First Citizens National Poetry Slam winner Derron Sandy. The pieces will be familiar to fans of Sandy’s spoken word repertoire, examining themes of sovereignty and systemic inequity, displacement and urban violence. No easy or tidy solutions are proposed to the endemic problems the poems present. Conversely, the poems’ speakers share the realities of their environments with an unstinting directness that rewards readers, urging true engagement with T&T’s realities.

Opinions in Review 2023 (self-published), by Trinidad Express op-ed journalist Jarrel de Matas, compiles the reporter’s newspaper articles of the past year, ranging in topic and theme across a broad spectrum of T&T current affairs. Politics, environmental issues, crime, education, religion, business, and the arts all receive coverage in Opinions in Review 2023, de Matas’s debut full-length publication. The book is positively described as “a stimulating mash-up” and “sobering and insightful” by fellow journalists Mark Wilson and Ryan Bachoo.

Awards and Prizes

Kevin Jared Hosein’s novel Hungry Ghosts has earned another international prize longlisting, this time for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, which confers a £25,000 award on the overall winner. Each of the prize’s shortlisted authors receive £1,500. The prize is named for novelist, poet, historian, and biographer Sir Walter Scott, considered in Anglophone literary circles to be a progenitor of the historical novel. A shortlist will be announced in May 2024.

Safiya Sinclair’s How to Say Babylon has been longlisted for the inaugural Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction, the only Caribbean title to be so recognised. The prize, open to women around the world who are published in the UK, will award £30,000 to its winner. A shortlist announcement will be made on 27 March, 2024, with the winner to be unveiled on 13 June.

NGC Children’s Bocas Lit Fest Storytelling Caravan

A cornerstone of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest returns in March: the 2024 NGC Children’s Bocas Lit Fest Storytelling Caravan includes, in a pioneering initiative, school visits as part of its multi-zonal rollout of free interactive children’s writing workshops across T&T. The Caravan, now in its fourteenth year, will visit ten locations: Moruga, Arima, Cedros, Matura, Salybia, Couva, Debe, Scarborough, Princes Town, and Port of Spain. Parents and guardians can register their children ages 5 to 12 for Caravan sessions (excluding school visits) at

Caribbean Bestsellers

Independent bookshop Paper Based ( shares its top-selling Caribbean titles for the past month:

1. The God of Good Looks, by Breanne Mc Ivor

2. When We Were Birds, by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo

3. Masman, by Peter Minshall

4. Uprooting, by Marchelle Farrell

5. How to Say Babylon, by Safiya Sinclair

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