The OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature

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.


3 Books Honored in 2019

Overall Winner (Nonfiction)

High Mas: Carnival and the Poetics of Caribbean Culture
by Kevin Adonis Browne

Publication Date:
List Price: $50.00
Format: Hardcover, 256 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9781496819383
Imprint: University Press of Mississippi
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
Parent Company: University Press of Mississippi
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Overall Winner of the 2019 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature

High Mas: Carnival and the Poetics of Caribbean Culture explores Caribbean identity through photography, criticism, and personal narrative. Taking a sophisticated and unapologetically subjective Caribbean point of view, the author delves into Mas—a key feature of Trinidad performance—as an emancipatory practice. The photographs and essays here immerse the viewer in carnival experience as never before. Kevin Adonis Browne divulges how performers are or wish to be perceived, along with how, as the photographer, he is implicated in that dynamic. The resulting interplay encourages an informed, nuanced approach to the imaging of contemporary Caribbeanness.

The first series, "Seeing Blue," features Blue Devils from the village of Paramin, whose performances signify an important revision of the post-emancipation tradition of Jab Molassie (Molasses Devil) in Trinidad. The second series, "La Femme des Revenants," chronicles the debut performance of Tracey Sankar’s La Diablesse, which reintroduced the "Caribbean femme fatale" to a new audience. The third series, "Moko Jumbies of the South," looks at Stephanie Kanhai and Jonadiah Gonzales, a pair of stilt-walkers from the performance group Touch de Sky from San Fernando in southern Trinidad. "Jouvay Reprised," the fourth series, follows the political activist group Jouvay Ayiti performing a Mas in the streets of Port of Spain on Emancipation Day in 2015.

Troubling the borders that persist between performer and audience, embodiment and spirituality, culture and self-consciousness, the book interrogates what audiences understand about the role of the participant-observer in public contexts. Representing the uneasy embrace of tradition in Trinidad and the Caribbean at large, the book probes the multiple dimensions of vernacular experience and their complementary cultural expressions. For Browne, Mas performance is an exquisite refusal to fully submit to the lingering traumas of slavery, the tyrannies of colonialism, and the myths of independence.Synopsis:

Overall Winner of the 2019 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature

High Mas: Carnival and the Poetics of Caribbean Culture explores Caribbean identity through photography, criticism, and personal narrative. Taking a sophisticated and unapologetically subjective Caribbean point of view, the author delves into Mas—a key feature of Trinidad performance—as an emancipatory practice. The photographs and essays here immerse the viewer in carnival experience as never before. Kevin Adonis Browne divulges how performers are or wish to be perceived, along with how, as the photographer, he is implicated in that dynamic. The resulting interplay encourages an informed, nuanced approach to the imaging of contemporary Caribbeanness.

The first series, "Seeing Blue," features Blue Devils from the village of Paramin, whose performances signify an important revision of the post-emancipation tradition of Jab Molassie (Molasses Devil) in Trinidad. The second series, "La Femme des Revenants," chronicles the debut performance of Tracey Sankar’s La Diablesse, which reintroduced the "Caribbean femme fatale" to a new audience. The third series, "Moko Jumbies of the South," looks at Stephanie Kanhai and Jonadiah Gonzales, a pair of stilt-walkers from the performance group Touch de Sky from San Fernando in southern Trinidad. "Jouvay Reprised," the fourth series, follows the political activist group Jouvay Ayiti performing a Mas in the streets of Port of Spain on Emancipation Day in 2015.

Troubling the borders that persist between performer and audience, embodiment and spirituality, culture and self-consciousness, the book interrogates what audiences understand about the role of the participant-observer in public contexts. Representing the uneasy embrace of tradition in Trinidad and the Caribbean at large, the book probes the multiple dimensions of vernacular experience and their complementary cultural expressions. For Browne, Mas performance is an exquisite refusal to fully submit to the lingering traumas of slavery, the tyrannies of colonialism, and the myths of independence.

Winner Fiction

Theory
by Dionne Brand

Publication Date:
List Price: $21.95
Format: Hardcover, 240 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780735274235
Imprint: Knopf Canada
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC
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Book Description: 


SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2019 OCM BOCAS PRIZE FOR CARIBBEAN LITERATURE (all genres)

WINNER IN THE FICTION CATEGORY: 2019 OCM BOCAS PRIZE FOR CARIBBEAN LITERATURE

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2019 TORONTO BOOK AWARDS

"After reading this book I realized that a novel can trace and map the inner markings inside one’s mind. A beautiful book that forever changed the way I approach writing, reading, and teaching." —Chelene Knight, author of Dear Current Occupant, CBC Books

"Dionne Brand’s ingenious meditation on academic angst is a heady, pleasure-filled ride." —Susan G. Cole, NOW

"Full of wry humour and biting critique, Theory is a masterful work from a writer who still knows how to have fun." —The Globe and Mail

"What Brand does so adeptly in this book is reveal how the many layers of power and personality destroy romantic partnerships, stress familial bonds and muzzle intellectual potential… . Theory is a book for those who are intrigued by how a brilliant thinker approaches lost love, unmet potential and unreliable narration. But if none of that appeals to you, Brand’s gorgeous prose and sly humour will definitely win you over." —Toronto Star

"Theory is a novel for the ages, a pirouetting inquiry into how we struggle, weep, deny, and love our way towards each other and into the arms of knowledge. Full of wit and unsettling acuity, driven by intellectual and physical passions, Dionne Brand’s new novel is a masterpiece." —Madeleine Thien, author of Do Not Say We Have Nothing, winner of the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize

"Theory marks Dionne Brand’s latest accomplishment in exquisitely attuning both thought and language to the sublime of everyday life. ’There’s no reference for what I want to do, ’ the narrator states; and herein begins a bold new story … By turns wry, passionate, and sensuously intellectual, Theory is a book of singular power from one of our greatest living writers." —David Chariandy, author of Brother and I’ve Been Meaning to Tell YouSynopsis:

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2019 OCM BOCAS PRIZE FOR CARIBBEAN LITERATURE (all genres)

WINNER IN THE FICTION CATEGORY: 2019 OCM BOCAS PRIZE FOR CARIBBEAN LITERATURE

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2019 TORONTO BOOK AWARDS

"After reading this book I realized that a novel can trace and map the inner markings inside one’s mind. A beautiful book that forever changed the way I approach writing, reading, and teaching." —Chelene Knight, author of Dear Current Occupant, CBC Books

"Dionne Brand’s ingenious meditation on academic angst is a heady, pleasure-filled ride." —Susan G. Cole, NOW

"Full of wry humour and biting critique, Theory is a masterful work from a writer who still knows how to have fun." —The Globe and Mail

"What Brand does so adeptly in this book is reveal how the many layers of power and personality destroy romantic partnerships, stress familial bonds and muzzle intellectual potential… . Theory is a book for those who are intrigued by how a brilliant thinker approaches lost love, unmet potential and unreliable narration. But if none of that appeals to you, Brand’s gorgeous prose and sly humour will definitely win you over." —Toronto Star

"Theory is a novel for the ages, a pirouetting inquiry into how we struggle, weep, deny, and love our way towards each other and into the arms of knowledge. Full of wit and unsettling acuity, driven by intellectual and physical passions, Dionne Brand’s new novel is a masterpiece." —Madeleine Thien, author of Do Not Say We Have Nothing, winner of the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize

"Theory marks Dionne Brand’s latest accomplishment in exquisitely attuning both thought and language to the sublime of everyday life. ’There’s no reference for what I want to do, ’ the narrator states; and herein begins a bold new story … By turns wry, passionate, and sensuously intellectual, Theory is a book of singular power from one of our greatest living writers." —David Chariandy, author of Brother and I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You

Winner Poetry

Doe Songs
by Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné

Publication Date:
List Price: $16.95
Format: Paperback, 84 pages
Classification: Poetry
ISBN13: 9781845234188
Imprint: Peepal Tree Press Ltd.
Publisher: Peepal Tree Press Ltd.
Parent Company: Peepal Tree Press Ltd.
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