Celeste Mohammed

Celeste Mohammed’s novel Pleasantview was declared the winner of the CLMP Firecracker Literary Award for Fiction 2022 on June 23, 2022.

The Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) is an organisation of independent literary publishers and magazines founded in the USA in 1967. The CLMP Firecracker Awards for Independently Published Literature are given annually to celebrate books and magazines that make a significant contribution to literary culture and the publishers that strive to introduce important voices to readers far and wide. Prizes are awarded in the categories of Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, Magazines/General Excellence, and Magazines/Best Debut. Each year, CLMP also awards the Lord Nose Award, given to a publisher or editor in recognition of a lifetime of work in literary publishing.

The finalists for the 2022 awards in fiction and nonfiction were announced on May 18 before the winners were revealed on June 23. The writer of African descent who won was in fiction with the judging panel of Donna Hemans, author of Tea by the Sea (Red Hen Press); Carley Moore, author of The Not Wives (Feminist Press); Cristina Rivera Garza, author of Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country (Feminist Press).

This jury announced the winner to be Pleasantview, Celeste Mohammed, published by Ig Publishing. In their citation they said, “Set in the fictional town of Pleasantview, Trinidad, Mohammed’s novel in stories–such a difficult genre to pull off–offers up an unforgettable cast of characters, each intertwined in surprising and complicated ways. Mohammed never shies away from the complications of colonialism, capitalism, and misogyny, while at the same time, leavening these subjects with humor and an impeccable ear for language and voice. Pleasantview is a great contribution to Trinidadian and Caribbean literature, as well as to independent literary fiction.”

Celeste Mohammed who currently resides in Trinidad has had work in The New England Review, Litmag, Epiphany, and The Rumpus, among other places. Several of the stories in Pleasantview have won awards, including the 2018 PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers, the 2019 Virginia Woolf Award for Short Fiction, and the 2017 John D Gardner Memorial Prize for Fiction.  

Responding to her win, Mohammed said, “My friends, supporters, readers, let me be the first to tell you that, in a just-concluded ceremony, Pleasantview won the American CLMP Firecracker Literary Award for Fiction. The official announcement and hoopla will probably come out tomorrow. But tonight, I am overjoyed, overwhelmed and more than a little embarrassed that I cried and couldn’t speak and my publisher had to jump in and speak for me. This book was dead and in a drawer, but there is nothing so dead that God cannot raise to life. I praise Him.”