OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature

The shortlist has been announced!

Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat, who was previously given a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Award” in 2009, is the non-fiction category winner for the 2011 OCM Bocas Prize, for her essay collection Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work. The judges describe the book as “thoughtful, interesting, and varied in its insights, often moving, and beautifully written, in a passionate yet restrained style.”

St. Lucian Nobel laureate Derek Walcott is the poetry category winner, for his book White Egrets, which has already won the prestigious T.S. Eliot Prize. The OCM Bocas Prize judges call it “a superb collection . . . that speaks for all of us who live and love and can’t ever take our eyes off the wonder of the world around us.”

The fiction category winner is How to Escape a Leper Colony, the debut short fiction collection by Tiphanie Yanique of the US Virgin Islands. “Extremely touching but never sentimental,” say the judges, “this is a wonderfully engaging gathering of stories by a genuinely gifted writer.”

This new regional festival and prize comes in a great year for Caribbean literature. I’m sorry I’m going to miss the festival (previous commitment), but I’ll be following the updates by web and by twitter. I encourage you to do the same.