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Roffey, Jenkins take top prizes at Bocas Lit

Sunday, May 5, 2013
Monique Roffey, author of Archipelago, left, accepts the 2013 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature from Gregory Camejo, group executive–corporate services at One Caribbean Media, and NGC Bocas Lit Fest founder and festival director Marina Salandy-Brown. Photos courtesy Maria Nunes/ NGC Bocas Lit Fest

Under the Trees at the Normandie, St Ann’s, on April 27, two writers received the premier prizes of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest and the validation of the local and international literary world.


Monique Roffey, author of Sun Dog and the sex memoir With the Kisses of His Mouth, was awarded the US$10,000 (about TT$64,200) OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature for her third novel, Archipelago. The idea for the novel was sparked by a catastrophic flood that decimated her brother’s house, Roffey said in a short documentary video shown at the ceremony. During her acceptance speech, she rededicated the book to her brother and to her mother. Roffey was shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 2010 and the Encore Award in 2011 for her second novel, The White Woman on the Green Bicycle.


St Lucian poet Kendel Hippolyte was awarded the Poetry Prize for his collection Fault Lines, and Guyanese writer Rupert Roopnaraine the Non-fiction Prize for The Sky’s Wild Noise, a selection of essays.


First-time short-fiction writer Barbara Jenkins, whose first book Sic Transit Wagon was launched at the festival, won the Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize. The prize is worth £10,000 (about TT$99,000) and will allow the winner to work on or complete a literary work with a year’s mentoring from an established writer, networking opportunities with editors and publishers, a week-long Arvon creative writing course and a cash prize of £3,000.


Jenkins has won multiple awards for her short stories, including the Commonwealth Short Story Prize for the Caribbean Region in 2010 and 2011, and the Wasafiri New Writing Prize in 2011.


“It takes a village to raise a child,” said a visibly moved Jenkins after accepting the prize, implicitly acknowledging the wide network of support that had helped her to this achievement. She was one of five other T&T writers shortlisted for the prize, a list that included T&T writer Sharon Millar, Sunday Arts Section editor and T&T Guardian columnist Lisa Allen-Agostini, and Bermudan writer Angela Barry.


The Hollick Arvon 2014 prize will be open to works of non-fiction, and the 2015 instalment to collections of poetry.


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