Caribbean writing gets another boost with the second OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, which will reward the best Caribbean book published this year with a US$10,000 prize. Entries were opened on September 16, and the 2012 prize will be announced in April next year at the Bocas Lit Fest, T&T's annual literary festival. The best book is chosen from the winner in each of three categories-non-fiction, fiction and poetry. Published writers who are Caribbean by birth or citizenship, living and working anywhere in the world, are eligible for the prize, which in 2011, its inaugural year, attracted 60 entries from more than a dozen countries.
White Egrets, Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott's eloquent musing over age and mortality, was the winner of the first OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. In contention for the US$10,000 reward for the best book of 2010 was How To Escape From a Leper Colony by first time published author and winner of the fiction category, Tiphanie Yanique, and Create Dangerously by young and celebrated Haitian author, Edwidge Danticat, winner of the non-fiction category. Eleven judges, led by acclaimed Barbadian author, George Lamming, will decide on the best book published by a Caribbean writer in 2011. Founder of the annual prize, Marina Salandy-Brown, said choosing the judges was a little complex, "If they have a book that is eligible for entry to the prize, we have to rule them out for that year. Then we must get a spread across the region and the Diaspora, a good gender balance and mix of genre specialists and, of course, they must have the time.
"Also, we cannot invite everyone at once. We have to save some of our big guns for future years. We think we have another collection of fine judges for 2012 prize, which is just as well since some very good titles have been appearing in 2011 by both emerging and established authors and we expect them to be entered for the 2012 Prize." The judges will produce a shortlist in March and the winner will be announced on April 28, 2012 at an award ceremony that is a highlight of the four-day Bocas Lit Fest, held annually on the last weekend of April at the National Library in Port-of-Spain. The KFC Children's Bocas Lit Fest takes place around the country during April. Information on the OCM Bocas Prize is available at www.bocaslitfest.com and on Facebook.