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.


9 Books Honored in 2017

Overall Winner (Fiction)

Augustown: A Novel
by Kei Miller

Publication Date:
List Price: $25.95
Format: Hardcover, 256 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9781101871614
Imprint: Pantheon Books
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC
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Read a Description of Augustown: A Novel


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, Augustownis 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, Augustownis 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:
List Price: $17.95
Format: Paperback, 126 pages
Classification: Poetry
ISBN13: 9780803290631
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Publisher: University of Nebraska
Parent Company: University of Nebraska
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Read a Description of Cannibal


Book Description: 


Winner of the 2016 Whiting AwardWinner 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 PrizeOne of BuzzFeed’s Best Poetry Books of 2016One of The New Yorker’s "Books We Loved in 2016"APublishers Weekly"Most Anticipated Book of Fall 2016"

Colliding with andconfrontingThe Tempestand postcolonial identity, the poems in Safiya Sinclair’sCannibalexplore 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 AwardWinner 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 PrizeOne of BuzzFeed’s Best Poetry Books of 2016One of The New Yorker’s "Books We Loved in 2016"APublishers Weekly"Most Anticipated Book of Fall 2016"

Colliding with andconfrontingThe Tempestand postcolonial identity, the poems in Safiya Sinclair’sCannibalexplore 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:
List Price: $80.00
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9789769595415
Imprint: Printed in Trinidad & Tobago
Publisher: Unknown
Parent Company: Unknown
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Read a Description of Virtual Glimpses into the Past


Book Description: 

Synopsis:

Longlist Poetry

House of Lords and Commons: Poems
by Ishion Hutchinson

Publication Date:
List Price: $23.00
Format: Hardcover, 96 pages
Classification: Poetry
ISBN13: 9780374173029
Imprint: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publisher: Macmillan
Parent Company: Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck
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Read a Description of House of Lords and Commons: Poems


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:
List Price: $18.95
Format: Paperback, 72 pages
Classification: Poetry
ISBN13: 9781845233303
Imprint: Peepal Tree Press Ltd.
Publisher: Peepal Tree Press Ltd.
Parent Company: Peepal Tree Press Ltd.
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Read a Description of Kingston Buttercup


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:
List Price: $18.95
Format: Paperback, 286 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9781845233327
Imprint: Peepal Tree Press Ltd.
Publisher: Peepal Tree Press Ltd.
Parent Company: Peepal Tree Press Ltd.
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Read a Description of The Marvellous Equations of the Dread: A Novel in Bass Riddim


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 Riddimtells 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 Riddimtells 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:
List Price: $18.95
Format: Paperback, 200 pages
Classification: Poetry
ISBN13: 9781845233310
Imprint: Peepal Tree Press Ltd.
Publisher: Peepal Tree Press Ltd.
Parent Company: Peepal Tree Press Ltd.
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Read a Description of The Repenters


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:
List Price: $35.00
Format: Paperback, 296 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9789766405854
Imprint: University of the West Indies Press
Publisher: University of the West Indies Press
Parent Company: University of the West Indies Press
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Read a Description of The First Black Slave Society: Britain’s Barbarity Time in Barbados, 1636-1876


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:
List Price: $40.00
Format: Paperback, 252 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9789766405915
Imprint: University of the West Indies Press
Publisher: University of the West Indies Press
Parent Company: University of the West Indies Press
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Read a Description of Inward Yearnings: Jamaica’s Journey to Nationhood


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



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