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9 books make Bocas prize longlist for 2022 – Trinidad Guardian

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Bocas prize longlist 2022
Nine books–sev­en by women and five by new­ly pub­lished writ­ers–have made the 12th OCM Bo­cas Prize for Caribbean Lit­er­a­ture longlist for 2022. The nine au­thors have roots in five dif­fer­ent Caribbean coun­tries. Of the nine books longlist­ed for the 2022 Prize, two are by writ­ers born in T&T, with the oth­er longlist­ed au­thors rep­re­sent­ing Haiti, Bar­ba­dos, and Ja­maica.
The 2022 OCM Bo­cas Prize for Caribbean Lit­er­a­ture, spon­sored by One Caribbean Me­dia, recog­nis­es books in three genre cat­e­gories—po­et­ry, fic­tion, and lit­er­ary non-fic­tion—pub­lished by au­thors of Caribbean birth or cit­i­zen­ship in the pre­ced­ing year.
The fic­tion cat­e­go­ry tes­ti­fies to the con­tem­po­rary dom­i­nance of Caribbean women writ­ers, with two de­but books join­ing a nov­el by a long-ac­claimed writer and schol­ar. What Storm, What Thun­der, the fourth nov­el by US-based Hait­ian-Cana­di­an writer Myr­i­am J A Chancy, is "a work of great force and beau­ty–pro­found in its lit­er­ary and his­tor­i­cal breadth and reach," says the judges. "Set in the be­fore and af­ter of the 2010 earth­quake in Haiti, Chancy’s nar­ra­tors give tex­ture to the every­day, to the del­i­cate work of hold­ing and piec­ing a life back to­geth­er."
How the One-Armed Sis­ter Sweeps Her House, the first nov­el by Bar­ba­di­an Cherie Jones, is "a panoram­ic sto­ry of love, grief, trau­ma, and re­silience. Jones writes with a pow­er­ful sense of place, un­fal­ter­ing­ly truth­ful in this por­trait of vi­o­lence and sur­vival. Com­pelling in its dra­ma and daz­zling in its cast, Jones’s nov­el is a sin­gu­lar and un­for­get­table achieve­ment."
The third longlist­ed de­but work of fic­tion is Pleas­antview, a "nov­el in sto­ries," by Trinida­di­an Ce­leste Mo­hammed. "With its in­ter­locked sto­ries, Mo­hammed has found a dar­ing new way to paint the por­trait of a com­mu­ni­ty," the judges re­marked. "Pleas­antview is a grip­ping read, writ­ten with a deep sense of con­nec­tion to peo­ple and place, both af­fec­tion­ate and lov­ing, while clear-eyed and crit­i­cal."
The po­et­ry longlist brings to­geth­er three books of di­verse styles, all con­cerned with how the past shapes the present. Think­ing with Trees, the de­but book by Ja­maica-born, UK-based Ja­son Allen-Paisant, "in­vites us to think about a per­pet­u­al con­di­tion of ‘mar­ronage’ for the Caribbean writer," writes the judges. The col­lec­tion, they added, "ex­plores na­ture as a sa­cred palace for rec­ol­lec­tion in an­oth­er tran­quil­li­ty, far from the one pro­posed by Wordsworth, a rec­ol­lec­tion that makes mem­o­ry present, that heals from the past of mar­gin­al­i­sa­tion."
What Noise Against the Cane, the first full-length book by T&T-born, US-based De­siree C Bai­ley, "reimag­ines archival his­to­ry in­to a liv­ing, breath­ing, me­men­to of trag­ic wit­ness­ing."
In these po­ems, "vi­o­lence acts on the prac­tice of writ­ing …The book it­self is in­hab­it­ed by var­i­ous lev­els of lan­guage that in­ter­twine to make present the mul­ti­ple races and his­to­ries that in­form each piece." Com­plet­ing the po­et­ry cat­e­go­ry is Zion Ros­es, the sec­ond book of po­ems by Ja­maican Mon­i­ca Minott. "This is a po­et that un­der­stands voice and voic­ing," the judges stat­ed. "Some of the more star­tling po­ems are dra­mat­ic mono­logues." Here, "the per­son­al and the po­lit­i­cal, mem­o­ry and his­to­ry give an all-en­com­pass­ing view of Caribbean women-cen­tred thought."
The non-fic­tion cat­e­go­ry judges have se­lect­ed books with sub­jects rang­ing from his­to­ry and sci­ence to per­son­al es­says. Cu­ba: An Amer­i­can His­to­ry by Ada Fer­rer is "a high­ly read­able his­to­ry of Cu­ba with tremen­dous new in­sights in­ter­twined with that of the Unit­ed States, writ­ten by some­one with roots in both coun­tries in a thought­ful and beau­ti­ful nar­ra­tive voice." The judges com­mend the au­thor’s "sweep­ing re­search, ob­jec­tiv­i­ty, bal­ance, pa­tience and pas­sion for her sub­ject."
The es­say col­lec­tion Things I Have With­held by US-based Ja­maican Kei Miller is "a deep and stir­ring ex­cur­sion in­to the taboo," said the judges– "the ‘dark’ places where truth and re­al­i­ty re­side, of­ten un­recog­nised and silent be­cause of fear of dis­crim­i­na­tion, ha­tred, and prej­u­dice. Miller sum­mons up his courage and nar­ra­tive voice as a Black Ja­maican gay man to ex­plore these un­spo­ken truths in an un­for­get­table, lay­ered and mov­ing way."
The Dis­or­dered Cos­mos: A Jour­ney in­to Dark Mat­ter, Space­time and Dreams De­ferred by Bar­ba­di­an-Amer­i­can Chan­da Prescod-We­in­stein is the third non-fic­tion cat­e­go­ry se­lec­tion. The judges com­ment­ed: "It is a rare feat that a physics pro­fes­sor should be able to deep­en our un­der­stand­ing and ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the ori­gins and work­ings of the phys­i­cal uni­verse and, at the same time, seam­less­ly blend in­to her en­gag­ing nar­ra­tive the race, gen­der, and oth­er so­cio-po­lit­i­cal is­sues in­ex­tri­ca­bly bound up even in the uni­verse of sci­ence."
On March 27 the judges of the OCM Bo­cas Prize will an­nounce the win­ner in each of the three genre cat­e­gories. Those ti­tles will com­pete for the over­all Prize of US$10,000, to be an­nounced on April 30, dur­ing the 12th an­nu­al NGC Bo­cas Lit Fest. Each cat­e­go­ry win­ner re­ceives US$3,000.
The judges
The 2022 OCM Bo­cas Prize judg­ing pan­els com­prise Caribbean and in­ter­na­tion­al writ­ers, crit­ics, and lit­er­ary or­gan­is­ers. Mayra San­tos-Febres, Puer­to Ri­can po­et, aca­d­e­m­ic, and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Puer­to Ri­co’s Fes­ti­val de la Pal­abra, chairs the po­et­ry pan­el, joined by Chloe Gar­ner, artis­tic di­rec­tor of the UK’s Led­bury Po­et­ry Fes­ti­val, and Ja­maican po­et and crit­ic Ish­ion Hutchin­son. British aca­d­e­m­ic and broad­cast­er Shahid­ha Bari chairs the fic­tion pan­el, joined by Cana­da-based schol­ar Christi­na Sharpe and T&T-born, US-based writer An­ton Nim­blett. God­frey Smith—Be­lizean ju­rist, bi­og­ra­ph­er, and him­self a for­mer win­ner of the OCM Bo­cas Prize for Non­fic­tion leads the non-fic­tion judg­ing. He is joined by Cana­da-based Ja­maican writer Rachel Man­ley and Guyanese-British writer Ani­ta Sethi. The over­all chair of the 2022 cross-genre judg­ing pan­el is Trinida­di­an-British writer Roger Robin­son, win­ner of the 2019 T S Eliot Prize.
NGC is the ti­tle spon­sor of the NGC Bo­cas Lit Fest, OCM and First Cit­i­zens are the main spon­sors, Massy Foun­da­tion and UWI are spon­sors. The fes­ti­val runs from April 28 to 1 May 1, 2022.
The 9 books:
Po­et­ry
Think­ing with Trees, by Ja­son Allen-Paisant (Car­canet Press)
What Noise Against the Cane, by De­siree CvBai­ley (Yale Uni­ver­si­ty Press)
Zion Ros­es, by Mon­i­ca Minott (Peepal Tree Press)
Fic­tion
What Storm, What Thun­der, by Myr­i­am J A Chancy (Harp­er Peren­ni­al)
How the One-Armed Sis­ter Sweeps Her House, by Cherie Jones (Lit­tle, Brown/Tin­der Press)
Pleas­antview, by Ce­leste Mo­hammed (Ig Pub­lish­ing/Jacaran­da Books)
Non-fic­tion
Cu­ba: An Amer­i­can His­to­ry, by Ada Fer­rer (Scrib­n­er)
Things I Have With­held, by Kei Miller (Grove At­lantic/Canon­gate)
The Dis­or­dered Cos­mos: A Jour­ney in­to Dark Mat­ter, Space­time and Dreams De­ferred, by Chan­da Prescod-We­in­stein (Bold Type Books)

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