Celeste Mohammed wins OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature 2022

Celeste Mohammed was announced the winner of the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature 2022 on Saturday, April 30, 2022.

The OCM (One Caribbean Media) Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature is an annual award for literary books by Caribbean writers, first handed out in 2011. Books are judged in three categories: poetry; fiction — both novels and collections of short stories; and literary non-fiction — including books of essays, biography and autobiography, history, current affairs, travel, and other genres. Some of the previous overall winners of the prize have been Derek Walcott, Monique Roffey, Kei Miller, and Canisia Lubrin.

The judging panels chaired overall by Trinidadian-British writer Roger Robinson, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize 2019, brings together Caribbean and international writers, critics, and literary organisers. The longlisted writers and poets in the different categories were announced on February 7 before the shortlists were revealed on Sunday May 27.

The winner for this year’s award was announced by Trinidadian-British writer Roger Robinson during the virtual award ceremony on Saturday 30 April during this year’s NGC Bocas Lit Festival. Robinson was joined on the final judging panel by Puerto Rican poet and academic Mayra Santos Febres, British academic and broadcaster Shahidha Bari, and Belizean biographer and attorney Godfrey Smith. They named Pleasantview the winner from a shortlist of the three books previously named the genre category winners of the 2022 OCM Bocas Prize.

In his judge’s remarks, Roger Robinson commented, “Mohammed troubles our sense of an island as a place of good-time celebration. The characters seem so bound to place and class, so clearly portrayed, that it could feel like these events were real or that the book could be documentary in its scope, making the reader remind themselves that the book is a work of fiction.

In addition to the US$3,000 cash prize for winning in her category, the winner received the overall Prize of US$10,000.