More Than A Literary Festival

Rohlehr, Naipaul books to debut at NGC Bocas Lit Fest

Two of Trinidad and Tobago’s literary icons will star at the 2024 NGC Bocas Lit Fest — but posthumously, with the launch of much-anticipated new books.

On Sunday 28 April, the programme for the Anglophone Caribbean’s biggest literary festival will include special launch events for a new memoir by the late Prof. Gordon Rohlehr, who died in 2023, and a long-awaited collection of journalism by Seepersad Naipaul (1906–1953), father of Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul. Both books are published by UK-based Peepal Tree Press.

Rohlehr’s book A Literary Friendship, completed a few months before his death last year, is subtitled Selected Notes on the Kamau Brathwaite, Gordon Rohlehr Correspondence. It draws on decades of letters between the Guyana-born scholar and UWI academic and the Barbadian poet, as well as Rohlehr’s previously unpublished notebooks, to give readers a double portrait of two of the Caribbean’s most important intellectual figures.

A Literary Friendship, writes the publisher, “documents, invaluably, the movements in Caribbean thought, literary culture and collective activity over those years; it focuses on the human relationship and sometimes disagreements between two of the region’s most important articulators of the difficult struggle to decolonise its arts and culture; it offers an honest and perceptive account of the nature of friendship and its, perhaps, inevitable inequalities; and it reflects movingly on the personal costs of confronting a world that seems bent on forgetting.”

At the launch event at 11 am on Sunday 28 April, Peepal Tree publisher Jeremy Poynting will introduce the book, followed by a conversation chaired by UWI Professor Emerita and fiction writer Barbara Lalla, also including UWI scholar Professor Paula Morgan, T&T writer Anu Lakhan, and Barbadian scholar Aaron Kamugisha.

Later that day, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest will also host the launch of Amazing Scenes: Selected Journalism 1928–1953 by Seepersad Naipaul, which collects 25 years’ worth of writing originally published in the Trinidad Guardian and inaccessible to readers for over 70 years. The book “makes the case that the very best journalism has every right to be considered as seriously as literary fiction,” writes the publisher. “In a country which has prized the newspaper columnist who combines insight with high style, Seepersad Naipaul claims the status of a pioneer.”

The festival session, at 4 pm on Sunday 28 April, will include readings from the pieces collected in the book as well as a wide-ranging conversation between co-editors Professor Kenneth Ramchand, Aaron Eastley, and Nivedita Misra. The fourth co-editor was the late Professor Brinsley Samaroo, who died in 2023.

The 2024 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, running from Thursday 25 to Sunday 28 April, also includes a packed lineup of readings, performances, workshops, and events for children and teens, with headline writers including Edwidge Danticat, Dionne Brand, Rabindranath Maharaj, Ingrid Persaud, and Canisia Lubrin. The full programme is online at

The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago is title sponsor of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest; OCM, First Citizens, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, and the British Council are main sponsors; Massy Foundation, UWI, and the JB Fernandes Memorial Trust are sponsors.



Launching the late Gordon Rohlehr’s book about his decades-long friendship with Kamau Brathwaite

Combining penetrating insight with frank self-awareness, A Literary Friendship — based on Rohlehr’s private notebooks and correspondence, and completed not long before his death in early 2023 — is at once memoir, literary analysis, and meditation on fame and obscurity. Publisher Jeremy Poynting introduces this important posthumous work, followed by a conversation among scholars and writers Aaron Kamugisha, Anu Lakhan, and Paula Morgan, chaired by Barbara Lalla

11.00 am–12.30 pm • Old Fire Station


Originally published in the Trinidad Guardian in the 1930s and ‘40s and long unavailable to readers, Seepersad Naipaul’s articles and columns are vivid accounts of a boisterous colonial society, full of character and incident. A new selected edition gives this “lost” body or writing back to us. With an introduction by publisher Jeremy Poynting and conversation and readings by co-editors Kenneth Ramchand, Nivedita Misra, and Aaron Eastley

4.00–5.30 pm • Old Fire Station

In partnership with the Friends of Mr. Biswas

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top