The second year of winners of a unique literary award that provides thousands of youth across the Caribbean region each year with access to exciting new titles were announced on May 1st.
The 2015 award ceremony for CODE’s Burt Award for Caribbean Literature, recognizing outstanding literary works for young adults written by Caribbean authors, was held in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, as part of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest.
Imam Baksh received the first prize of $10,000 CAD for his first novel, Children of the Spider, Diana McCauley, from Jamaica, won the second prize of $7,000 CAD for The Dolphin Catchers, while the third prize of $5,000 CAD went to Lynn Joseph of Trinidad and Tobago for Dancing in the Rain. The finalists were selected by a jury administered by The Bocas Lit Fest and made up of writers, literacy experts and academics from the Caribbean and Canada.
All three winning novels are still at the manuscript stage. As part of the Award, CODE will help link the winning authors to Caribbean publishers so their works can be published in the near future.
The Award’s book purchase and distribution program will ensure that a minimum of 2,500 copies of each of the three winning titles will be put into the hands of young people through schools, libraries and community organizations across the Caribbean.
In its inaugural year, the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature donated 7,500 copies of the first set of three winning titles to hundreds of locations across 11 Caribbean countries, including schools, libraries and children’s homes.
“We’re very excited that all three winning works this year are manuscripts, as it means the Awards are succeeding in helping generate new writing. A key objective is to encourage authors to write for young people, regardless of whether or not they already have a publishing deal,” said CODE Executive Director Scott Walter. “We know we can turn more youth on to reading if they have access to amazing books that truly speak to them, and our Award, combined with a guaranteed purchase, allows this to happen. Its win-win-win, as the market for Caribbean publishers is strengthened, Caribbean authors are rewarded for their craft and many thousands of entertaining, engaging books get into the hands of Caribbean youth.”
“Another fantastic achievement by our region’s writers,” said Marina Salandy-Brown, founder of the organization that hosts Trinidad and Tobago’s annual literary festival, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest. “Congratulations to all of them, including the ones who just missed the top prizes. Thanks to CODE and the Literary Prizes Foundation, there will be more opportunities for everyone.”
CODE’s Burt Award is a global readership initiative and is also currently established in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Canada.