Among the highlights of the 2013 programme is the Caribbean leg of the Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference, an international series of vigorous high-level debates among writers, looking at some of the big questions facing contemporary literature. In partnership with the British Council and the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest will host two EWWC debates, on “A national literature?” and “Should literature be political?”
The festival is also the occasion for the announcement of the winner of the 2013 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, a major regional award recognising Caribbean writers of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, and the inaugural Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize, supporting an emerging Caribbean writer in completing a book.
This year, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest will also inaugurate the new Bocas Henry Swanzy Award for Distinguished Service to Caribbean Letters, an annual lifetime achievement award recognising service to Caribbean literature by editors, publishers, critics, and broadcasters. The 2013 Bocas Henry Swanzy Award will be presented to John La Rose (posthumously) and Sarah White of New Beacon Books, pioneers of Caribbean publishing and bookselling in Britain.
Dozens of writers from the Caribbean and further afield will read from their work at the festival, and participate in discussions on topics such as how technology will (or won’t) change the way we tell stories, what it’s like to see your novel transformed into a film, and the books that have influenced some of Trinidad and Tobago’s best contemporary authors.
As usual, Caribbean writers are the main focus of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest. This year’s participants include the celebrated Olive Senior, chair of the 2013 OCM Bocas Prize judges. She joins a strong contingent of Jamaican writers, also including Marlon James (The Book of Night Women), Diana McCaulay (Huracan), Ifeona Fulani (Ten Days in Jamaica), and Kerry Young (Pao), as well as two British writers of Jamaican parentage, Colin Grant (Bageye at the Wheel) and Hannah Lowe (Chick).
Other Caribbean writers at the 2013 festival will include Bahamians Marion Bethel (Guanahani, My Love) and Robert Antoni (Carnival), Guyanese writers Oonya Kempadoo (launching her new novel, All Decent Animals) and Cyril Dabydeen (Unanimous Night), Barbadian Andrea Stuart (Sugar in the Blood), and Guyana-born historian Richard Drayton.
Writers from Trinidad and Tobago play a major role in the festival programme also. Earl Lovelace, winner of the 2012 OCM Bocas Prize for his novel Is Just a Movie, and poet Vahni Capildeo (Dark and Unaccustomed Words) will participate in the EWWC debates. Fiction writers Lawrence Scott (Light Falling on Bamboo) and Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw (Four Taxis Facing North) and London-based Trinidadian poet Roger Robinson (Suckle) will also appear, and Barbara Jenkins will launch her debut book of short stories, Sic Transit Wagon. Monique Roffey, winner of the fiction category of the 2013 OCM Bocas Prize, will read from her book Archipelago. And the distinguished Trinidad-born Ian McDonald (The Humming-Bird Tree), long based in Guyana, will talk about his life and work in a special one-on-one session.International writers also feature in the line-up. Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh will read from his best-selling Trainspotting and talk about the experience of seeing his fiction translated into film. Marina Warner – British, but descended from a family with deep Caribbean roots – will share both her fiction and her more recent writing on myth, imagination, and storytelling. They will be joined by Indian writer Pankaj Mishra (From the Ruins of Empire) and Nigerian Teju Cole (Open City). A special event supported by the Alliance Fran?aise and the French Embassy will showcase the work of Martiniquan Patrick Chamoiseau, author of the celebrated novel Texaco.
Several dozen other writers and speakers will complete the programme. And, as in past years, the 2013 festival will include several events focused on budding and emerging writers: workshops in fiction and poetry; a special reading and discussion featuring some of the best self-published local writers of the past year; and our New Talent Showcase, supported by Courts, shining a spotlight on promising writers close to publishing their first books.
The varied programme will also include the Verses Bocas Poetry Slam, supported by First Citizens, where spoken word poets compete with their peers for prizes; and screenings of films based on Caribbean novels and poems, supported by flow. Distinguished neuroscientist Professor Ian Robertson will deliver the second annual NGC Bocas Lecture on the provocative “The Winner Effect - How Power Affects Your Brain.”
The festival will also bring the launch of CaribLit, a new online hub with resources for Caribbean writers, readers, and publishers, created by the Caribbean Literature Action Group, a partnership between the Bocas Lit Fest, the British Council, and Commonwealth Writers. And the international journal Wasafiri will launch a new special issue looking at writing from Trinidad and Tobago. Editor Susheila Nasta will lead the event.
Parallel to the main festival, the KFC Children’s Bocas Lit Fest will include dozens of readings, performances, plus writing and storytelling workshops for young readers and writers.
NGC is the title sponsor of the festival, main sponsors are OCM and KFC with supporting sponsorship from the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development, First Citizens, Courts and flow. Other sponsors are the National Museum and Art Gallery, UWI, TDC, Neal and Massy Foundation, ASCO, Worley Parsons and ANSA McAL Foundation.
Free, secure, weekday parking is available in the paddock area of the Queens’s Park Savannah and a free hourly shuttle service is provided down to the National Library and back.