Every year over the last 20 years TIME magazine has produced a list of 100 people it believes are the most influential in this world.
Over time that list has featured former world leaders such as Barack Obama, technology giants like Bill Gates, and even freedom fighters like Nelson Mandela.
Explaining the criteria for selection in 2007, TIME’s managing editor Richard Stengel explained that: “Influence is hard to measure, and what we look for is people whose ideas, whose example, whose talent, whose discoveries transform the world we live in.”
Imagine being able to meet one of the people who made this year’s TIME 100 list right here in T&T.
And imagine being able to do so for free.
Well, this is no work of fiction.
Jamaican author Marlon James, who was listed on this year’s TIME 100 list, will be in T&T for the NGC Bocas Lit Fest.
The five-day festival starts today with a series of events taking place primarily in and around the National Library and Information System Authority (NALIS) in Port-of-Spain.
But James is not the only attraction at the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, as Trinidad and Tobago award winning novelist, Earl Lovelace, Jamaican fiction writer Nalo Hopkinson and a host of other established and up and coming authors and poets will also be present.
This year marks the ninth year the festival has been bringing readers and writers together.
Founder and festival director Marina Salandy-Brown yesterday reminisced about the genesis of the festival.
“When we started people said ‘you’re crazy you want to have a festival about books? People here don’t read,’ and I said, ‘I don’t think so, I think they do read’ except we did not give people permission to say that they read, it was a sort of closet thing,” Salandy-Brown said.
Salandy-Brown said the festival has given readers and writers opportunities they were previously denied.
“A lot of people can’t actually make a living out of just writing because of the nature of the industry etc so a lot of them are actually academics, they teach one another’s writing but they never met the writers and to come to Trinidad and to be in the company of somebody like Lovelace or now Marlon James or (Derek) Walcott when he was alive this is like touching the hem of a god, so I think for a lot of writers it was really important,” Salandy-Brown said.
“I think for readers it is very important because when we live in the Metropolis there are thousands of book festivals around the world you can meet any writer, and it is not a big thing but in places like ours where there are no festivals readers can’t engage with writers and I think that is important,” she said.
Sadly, Salandy-Brown said not enough people are taking advantage of the opportunities at the festival.
“It (the festival) is not about books because people associate books with school and licks, books are about ideas and we want people to come and engage in ideas,” Salandy-Brown said.
“The general readings are really for people to understand the stories that are in books,” she said.
Salandy-Brown said it did not matter in what format a may book appeared what matters is engaging in ideas.
She said the festival is meant to highlight the literary giants who went before and those who are now taking up the mantle and standing on their shoulders.
The featured writers this year are Danez Smith Claire Adam and Nicole Sealey.
This year’s the festival will also celebrate the 75th anniversary of publication of Dr Eric Williams’ book Capitalism and Slavery.