Port of Spain, April 25, 2018 — The Bocas Lit Fest and CODE announced the winners of its fifth annual Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature, which recognizes outstanding writing for young adults by Caribbean authors, during the opening night of the 2018 NGC Bocas Lit Festival in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
Imam Baksh received the first prize of $10,000 CAD for his manuscript The Dark of the Sea. Baksh is an award-winning author from Guyana. This is Baksh’s second book to be awarded the CODE Burt Award Winning prize. His first novel, Children of the Spider won the same prize in 2015. His short stories have also won the Henry Josiah Prize for Children’s Stories three times between 2006 and 2010.
Shakirah Bourne is a Barbadian award-winning writer and filmmaker. She received a finalist prize for her YA manuscript, My Fishy Stepmom. Elizabeth J. Jones is a freelance writer, editor and tutor who calls Bermuda home and she received a finalist prize for her first YA novel A Dark Iris. Each finalist took home a prize of $2,000 CAD. The winners were selected by a jury administered by The Bocas Lit Fest and made up of writers and literacy experts.
All three winning novels are still at the manuscript stage. As part of the award program, CODE helps to connect the winning authors to Caribbean publishers and their books will be published in 2019. CODE also purchases and distributes up to 2,500 copies of each winning title. This unique distribution program ensures great literature makes it into the hands of young people through schools, libraries and community organizations across the Caribbean.
“It’s a fantastic time to be a YA author as the demand continues to explode worldwide; despite all the other distractions, everyone still loves to read a good story,” says Scott Walter, Executive Director of CODE. “What’s really exciting is the growth of Caribbean writers and the increase in the range of extraordinary new stories across the YA genre. Nothing illustrates this better than the latest three winners of CODE’s Burt Awards for Caribbean Young Adult Literature. This year we have a great mix of fun and fantasy--real page turners full of humour, adventure, and the realities of adolescence, crushes and family problems. Congratulations to the winning authors, I hope these books make it into the hands of every youngster in the Caribbean.”
“This award is like magic: each year more wonderful tales for young adults appear, creating unique, diverse, new worlds, not only for readers in one island or another but for all Caribbean readers. I look forward to these beautiful stories and books getting one day into the hands of children wherever their parents settled in the world, linking them to the joys and adventures of young people living in this archipelago,” says Marina Salandy-Brown, founder and chairman of the Bocas Lit Fest.
The CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Literature was established by CODE—a Canadian charitable organization that has been advancing literacy and learning for 59 years—in collaboration with the Literary Prizes Foundation. CODE’s Burt Award is a global readership initiative that includes programs in the Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Canada.
Since 2014, CODE has distributed more than 36,000 award-winning books to readers in eleven Caribbean countries. It further supports local writing and publishing through workshops for writers and editors and through reading promotion initiatives, such as sponsoring events that connect winning authors directly with young readers.
For further details on the Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature, please visit: