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The OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature

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Bocas Logo The OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature is a major award for literary books by Caribbean writers. Prizes are awarded three categories: poetry, fiction, and literary non-fiction; with one book being named the “Overall Winner.” The prize includes an award of $10,000 for the overall winner ($3,000 for the other winners), and is sponsored by One Caribbean Media. The awards are announced during the Bocas Literary Festival which is held in Trinidad & Tobago each spring.

To be eligible for the prize, a book must have been published in the past calendar year, and written by an author born in the Caribbean or holding Caribbean citizenship. Books must also have been originally written in English. Learn more.


9 Books Honored in 2017


Overall Winner (Fiction)

Augustown: A Novel
by Kei Miller



    Publication Date: May 23, 2017
    List Price: $25.95 (store prices may vary)
    Format: Hardcover
    Classification: Fiction
    Page Count: 256
    ISBN13: 9781101871614
    Imprint: Pantheon Books
    Publisher: Penguin Random House
    Parent Company: Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC

    Book Description: 


    11 April 1982: a smell is coming down John Golding Road right alongside the boy-child, something attached to him, like a spirit but not quite. Ma Taffy is growing worried. She knows that something is going to happen. Something terrible is going to pour out into the world. But if she can hold it off for just a little bit longer, she will. So she asks a question that surprises herself even as she asks it, "Kaia, I ever tell you bout the flying preacherman?"

    Set in the backlands of Jamaica, Augustown is a magical and haunting novel of one woman’s struggle to rise above the brutal vicissitudes of history, race, class, collective memory, violence, and myth.Synopsis:

    11 April 1982: a smell is coming down John Golding Road right alongside the boy-child, something attached to him, like a spirit but not quite. Ma Taffy is growing worried. She knows that something is going to happen. Something terrible is going to pour out into the world. But if she can hold it off for just a little bit longer, she will. So she asks a question that surprises herself even as she asks it, "Kaia, I ever tell you bout the flying preacherman?"

    Set in the backlands of Jamaica, Augustown is a magical and haunting novel of one woman’s struggle to rise above the brutal vicissitudes of history, race, class, collective memory, violence, and myth.


    Winner Poetry

    Cannibal
    by Safiya Sinclair



      Publication Date: Sep 01, 2016
      List Price: $17.95 (store prices may vary)
      Format: Paperback
      Classification: Poetry
      Page Count: 126
      ISBN13: 9780803290631
      Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
      Publisher: University of Nebraska
      Parent Company: University of Nebraska

      Book Description: 


      Winner of the 2016 Whiting Award Winner of the Addison Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts & LettersWinner of the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature (Poetry)An American Library Association "Notable Book of the Year" Longlisted for the 2017 PEN Open Book AwardLonglisted for the 2017 Dylan Thomas Prize One of BuzzFeed’s Best Poetry Books of 2016One of The New Yorker’s "Books We Loved in 2016"A Publishers Weekly "Most Anticipated Book of Fall 2016"

      Colliding with and confronting The Tempest and postcolonial identity, the poems in Safiya Sinclair’s Cannibal explore Jamaican childhood and history, race relations in America, womanhood, otherness, and exile. She evokes a home no longer accessible and a body at times uninhabitable, often mirrored by a hybrid Eve/Caliban figure. Blooming with intense lyricism and fertile imagery, these full-blooded poems are elegant, mythic, and intricately woven. Here the female body is a dark landscape; the female body is cannibal. Sinclair shocks and delights her readers with her willingness to disorient and provoke, creating a multitextured collage of beautiful and explosive poems.Synopsis:

      Winner of the 2016 Whiting Award Winner of the Addison Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts & LettersWinner of the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature (Poetry)An American Library Association "Notable Book of the Year" Longlisted for the 2017 PEN Open Book AwardLonglisted for the 2017 Dylan Thomas Prize One of BuzzFeed’s Best Poetry Books of 2016One of The New Yorker’s "Books We Loved in 2016"A Publishers Weekly "Most Anticipated Book of Fall 2016"

      Colliding with and confronting The Tempest and postcolonial identity, the poems in Safiya Sinclair’s Cannibal explore Jamaican childhood and history, race relations in America, womanhood, otherness, and exile. She evokes a home no longer accessible and a body at times uninhabitable, often mirrored by a hybrid Eve/Caliban figure. Blooming with intense lyricism and fertile imagery, these full-blooded poems are elegant, mythic, and intricately woven. Here the female body is a dark landscape; the female body is cannibal. Sinclair shocks and delights her readers with her willingness to disorient and provoke, creating a multitextured collage of beautiful and explosive poems.


      Winner Nonfiction

      Virtual Glimpses into the Past
      by Angelo Bissesarsingh



        Publication Date: Jan 01, 2016
        List Price: $80.00 (store prices may vary)
        Format: Hardcover
        Classification: Nonfiction
        Page Count: 0
        ISBN13: 9789769595415
        Imprint: Printed in Trinidad & Tobago
        Publisher: Unknown
        Parent Company: Unknown

        Book Description: 

        Synopsis:


        Longlist Poetry

        House of Lords and Commons: Poems
        by Ishion Hutchinson



          Publication Date: Sep 20, 2016
          List Price: $23.00 (store prices may vary)
          Format: Hardcover
          Classification: Poetry
          Page Count: 96
          ISBN13: 9780374173029
          Imprint: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
          Publisher: Macmillan
          Parent Company: Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck

          Book Description: 


          A stunning collection that traverses the borders of culture and time, from the 2011 winner of the PEN/Joyce Osterweil AwardIn House of Lords and Commons, the revelatory and vital new collection of poems from the winner of the 2013 Whiting Writers’ Award in poetry, Ishion Hutchinson returns to the difficult beauty of the Jamaican landscape with remarkable lyric precision. Here, the poet holds his world in full focus but at an astonishing angle: from the violence of the seventeenth-century English Civil War as refracted through a mythic sea wanderer, right down to the dark interior of love.These poems arrange the contemporary continuum of home and abroad into a wonderment of cracked narrative sequences and tumultuous personae. With ears tuned to the vernacular, the collection vividly binds us to what is terrifying about happiness, loss, and the lure of the sea. House of Lords and Commons testifies to the particular courage it takes to wade unsettled, uncertain, and unfettered in the wake of our shared human experience.Synopsis:

          A stunning collection that traverses the borders of culture and time, from the 2011 winner of the PEN/Joyce Osterweil AwardIn House of Lords and Commons, the revelatory and vital new collection of poems from the winner of the 2013 Whiting Writers’ Award in poetry, Ishion Hutchinson returns to the difficult beauty of the Jamaican landscape with remarkable lyric precision. Here, the poet holds his world in full focus but at an astonishing angle: from the violence of the seventeenth-century English Civil War as refracted through a mythic sea wanderer, right down to the dark interior of love.These poems arrange the contemporary continuum of home and abroad into a wonderment of cracked narrative sequences and tumultuous personae. With ears tuned to the vernacular, the collection vividly binds us to what is terrifying about happiness, loss, and the lure of the sea. House of Lords and Commons testifies to the particular courage it takes to wade unsettled, uncertain, and unfettered in the wake of our shared human experience.


          Longlist Poetry

          Kingston Buttercup
          by Ann-Margaret Lim



            Publication Date: Sep 19, 2016
            List Price: $18.95 (store prices may vary)
            Format: Paperback
            Classification: Poetry
            Page Count: 72
            ISBN13: 9781845233303
            Imprint: Peepal Tree Press Ltd.
            Publisher: Peepal Tree Press Ltd.
            Parent Company: Peepal Tree Press Ltd.

            Book Description: 


            Longlisted:
            2017 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature

            Jamaican poet, Ann Margaret Lim, follows her critically acclaimed debut collection, The Festival of Wild Orchid, with an exciting new volume, Kingston Buttercup, a work of fierce honesty, social awareness and lyric complexity. Bocas Poetry Prize winner, Loretta Collins Klobah, writes: "In Kingston Buttercup, her marvelous second book, Ann-Margaret Lim’s fresh, honest, and tenderly-fierce perspective comes through in highly readable lyric poems."Synopsis:

            Longlisted:
            2017 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature

            Jamaican poet, Ann Margaret Lim, follows her critically acclaimed debut collection, The Festival of Wild Orchid, with an exciting new volume, Kingston Buttercup, a work of fierce honesty, social awareness and lyric complexity. Bocas Poetry Prize winner, Loretta Collins Klobah, writes: "In Kingston Buttercup, her marvelous second book, Ann-Margaret Lim’s fresh, honest, and tenderly-fierce perspective comes through in highly readable lyric poems."


            Longlist Fiction

            The Marvellous Equations of the Dread: A Novel in Bass Riddim
            by Marcia Douglas



              Publication Date: Oct 24, 2016
              List Price: $18.95 (store prices may vary)
              Format: Paperback
              Classification: Fiction
              Page Count: 286
              ISBN13: 9781845233327
              Imprint: Peepal Tree Press Ltd.
              Publisher: Peepal Tree Press Ltd.
              Parent Company: Peepal Tree Press Ltd.

              Book Description: 


              A much-awaited novel from an award-winning writer a reggae track of ancestral memory and the inexorable search for freedom.
              Bob Marley is dead. The Emperor Haile Selassie has been brutally murdered. The armed gangs of Kingston are at war and the murder rate soars. The people have lost all trust in self-serving politicians. It is hard to imagine worse times.
              The Marvellous Equations of the Dread: A Novel in Bass Riddim tells the twin stories of Jamaica’s nihilistic violence and its wondrously creative humanity and does truthful justice to both. It takes place in the worlds of the living and in the vivid afterlife of the dead, spanning Kingston ghettoes, the Emperor’s palace in Addis Ababa, and Zion. There is even a fallen angel.
              At its heart are the human stories of deaf Leenah who with her mother and daughter writes a powerful woman version of events; the relationship between Fall-down (a street madman and fallen angel) and Delroy an orphaned street-boy; and the meetings in the clock tower at Half Way Tree between Bob Marley, Marcus Garvey and the island’s dead. But before all of this, there is the enslaved boy who was hung from the silk cotton tree in 1766. The novel sets out to retrieve the word at the tip of his tongue.
              Not the least of the novel’s marvellous equations are the dread revenants who encourage the living to take responsibility for the future of the nation.Synopsis:

              A much-awaited novel from an award-winning writer a reggae track of ancestral memory and the inexorable search for freedom.
              Bob Marley is dead. The Emperor Haile Selassie has been brutally murdered. The armed gangs of Kingston are at war and the murder rate soars. The people have lost all trust in self-serving politicians. It is hard to imagine worse times.
              The Marvellous Equations of the Dread: A Novel in Bass Riddim tells the twin stories of Jamaica’s nihilistic violence and its wondrously creative humanity and does truthful justice to both. It takes place in the worlds of the living and in the vivid afterlife of the dead, spanning Kingston ghettoes, the Emperor’s palace in Addis Ababa, and Zion. There is even a fallen angel.
              At its heart are the human stories of deaf Leenah who with her mother and daughter writes a powerful woman version of events; the relationship between Fall-down (a street madman and fallen angel) and Delroy an orphaned street-boy; and the meetings in the clock tower at Half Way Tree between Bob Marley, Marcus Garvey and the island’s dead. But before all of this, there is the enslaved boy who was hung from the silk cotton tree in 1766. The novel sets out to retrieve the word at the tip of his tongue.
              Not the least of the novel’s marvellous equations are the dread revenants who encourage the living to take responsibility for the future of the nation.


              Longlist Fiction

              The Repenters
              by Kevin Jared Hosein



                Publication Date: Aug 01, 2016
                List Price: $18.95 (store prices may vary)
                Format: Paperback
                Classification: Poetry
                Page Count: 200
                ISBN13: 9781845233310
                Imprint: Peepal Tree Press Ltd.
                Publisher: Peepal Tree Press Ltd.
                Parent Company: Peepal Tree Press Ltd.

                Book Description: 


                Longlisted:
                2017 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature

                When the infant Jordan Sant is taken to the St Asteria Home for Children after the murder of his parents, he sets out on a journey that is a constant struggle between his best and worst selves. One relationship, with the young nun the children call Mouse, awakens the possibilities of love and hope, but when Mouse abandons her calling and leaves the home, the world thereafter becomes a darker place. When, barely a teenager, he runs away from the home to scuffle for a living in the frightening underbelly of Port of Spain, Jordan reaches the lower depths of both Trinidadian society and himself.Synopsis:

                Longlisted:
                2017 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature

                When the infant Jordan Sant is taken to the St Asteria Home for Children after the murder of his parents, he sets out on a journey that is a constant struggle between his best and worst selves. One relationship, with the young nun the children call Mouse, awakens the possibilities of love and hope, but when Mouse abandons her calling and leaves the home, the world thereafter becomes a darker place. When, barely a teenager, he runs away from the home to scuffle for a living in the frightening underbelly of Port of Spain, Jordan reaches the lower depths of both Trinidadian society and himself.


                Longlist Nonfiction

                The First Black Slave Society: Britain’s Barbarity Time in Barbados, 1636-1876
                by Hilary Beckles



                  Publication Date: Sep 30, 2016
                  List Price: $35.00 (store prices may vary)
                  Format: Paperback
                  Classification: Nonfiction
                  Page Count: 296
                  ISBN13: 9789766405854
                  Imprint: University of the West Indies Press
                  Publisher: University of the West Indies Press
                  Parent Company: University of the West Indies Press

                  Book Description: 


                  Book describes the brutal Black slave society and plantation system of Barbados and explains how this slave chattel model was perfected by the British and exported to Jamaica and South Carolina for profit. There is special emphasis on the role of the concept of white supremacy in shaping social structure and economic relations that allowed slavery to continue. The book concludes with information on how slavery was finally outlawed in Barbados, in spite of white resistance.Synopsis:

                  Book describes the brutal Black slave society and plantation system of Barbados and explains how this slave chattel model was perfected by the British and exported to Jamaica and South Carolina for profit. There is special emphasis on the role of the concept of white supremacy in shaping social structure and economic relations that allowed slavery to continue. The book concludes with information on how slavery was finally outlawed in Barbados, in spite of white resistance.


                  Longlist Nonfiction

                  Inward Yearnings: Jamaica’s Journey to Nationhood
                  by Colin A. Palmer



                    Publication Date: Sep 30, 2016
                    List Price: $40.00 (store prices may vary)
                    Format: Paperback
                    Classification: Nonfiction
                    Page Count: 252
                    ISBN13: 9789766405915
                    Imprint: University of the West Indies Press
                    Publisher: University of the West Indies Press
                    Parent Company: University of the West Indies Press

                    Book Description: 


                    "Inward Yearnings: Jamaica’s Journey to Nationhood is a pioneering case study of an Anglo-Caribbean island’s search for a racial selfhood, its nervous embrace of its African heritage and ultimately a nationalism that reflected those inner longings. These complex and interrelated processes manifested themselves with the founding of the Universal Negro Improvement Association by Marcus Garvey in 1914,the emergence of Rastafarianism and the Back to Africa Movement in the 1930s, the People’s National Party’s adoption of self-government as its goal in 1940, and the appearance of numerous black consciousness groups in the 1950s. The first half of the book excavates the roots of these inner struggles, and their expressions and roles in Jamaica’s society and culture. The second half examines Jamaica’s entry into the West Indies Federation in 1958 and its secession by means of a referendum in 1961. The Colonial Office had convinced the ten federating units that they were all too small to make their individual independence a viable option. The Jamaicans attempted to subsume their nationalism in formation into a larger West Indian nationalism but the process failed. A federal union had been constructed upon a watery foundation. Palmer’s book is a carefully researched history of the federation’s failure and of Jamaica’s decision to affirm its own political identity and selfhood. The book is based largely on manuscript sources located in the British National Archives at Kew Gardens, the Jamaica Archives in Spanish Town and the National Archives of the United States located in College Park. The Jamaican newspaper the Daily Gleaner also constituted an invaluable source." Publisher websitSynopsis:

                    "Inward Yearnings: Jamaica’s Journey to Nationhood is a pioneering case study of an Anglo-Caribbean island’s search for a racial selfhood, its nervous embrace of its African heritage and ultimately a nationalism that reflected those inner longings. These complex and interrelated processes manifested themselves with the founding of the Universal Negro Improvement Association by Marcus Garvey in 1914,the emergence of Rastafarianism and the Back to Africa Movement in the 1930s, the People’s National Party’s adoption of self-government as its goal in 1940, and the appearance of numerous black consciousness groups in the 1950s. The first half of the book excavates the roots of these inner struggles, and their expressions and roles in Jamaica’s society and culture. The second half examines Jamaica’s entry into the West Indies Federation in 1958 and its secession by means of a referendum in 1961. The Colonial Office had convinced the ten federating units that they were all too small to make their individual independence a viable option. The Jamaicans attempted to subsume their nationalism in formation into a larger West Indian nationalism but the process failed. A federal union had been constructed upon a watery foundation. Palmer’s book is a carefully researched history of the federation’s failure and of Jamaica’s decision to affirm its own political identity and selfhood. The book is based largely on manuscript sources located in the British National Archives at Kew Gardens, the Jamaica Archives in Spanish Town and the National Archives of the United States located in College Park. The Jamaican newspaper the Daily Gleaner also constituted an invaluable source." Publisher websit


                    On March 16, 1950, publishers, editors, writers, and critics gathered at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City to celebrate the first annual National Book Awards, an award given to writers by writers. The American Book Publisher’s Council, The Book Manufacturers’ Institute, and The American Booksellers’ Association jointly sponsored the Awards, bringing together the American literary community for the first time to honor the year’s best work in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. As the Boston Herald reported the following day, “literary history was indeed in the making.”





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