Announcement re the Guyana Prize for Literature

Congratulations to all the short listed writers from Wadadli Pen and especially to those (in bold) now part of the Wadadli Pen family for past involvement as patrons of our annual Challenge or in other capacity.

UntitledThe Management Committee of The Guyana Prize for Literature announces the Shortlist for the 2014 Awards in Fiction, Poetry and Drama, as decided by the Jury, an independent panel of writers, critics and experts in the fields of literature, drama, culture and the arts: Prof Mark McWatt, internationally acclaimed award winning fiction writer and poet, critic and academic; Mrs Ameena Gafoor, literary and arts critic, Editor of The Arts Journal, Founder of The Arts Forum; Robert Leyshon, Senior Lecturer at UWI, Cave Hill, Director of the Cave Hill Theatre, dramatist and critic; Dr Louis Regis, Head of Literary, Cultural and Communication Studies at UWI, St Augustine, researcher in Cultural Studies, critic and academic. The winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony on November 29.

SHORTLISTED WORKS
in alphabetical order for each category

Best First Book of Fiction:
a. Rueben Latchmansingh, A Dip at the Sangam (Westbow Press)
A Dip at the Sangam–by Reuben Latchmansingh: A work of historical fiction about the abduction of the protagonist, Raja, from his Indian home and wife, his transportation to the cane fields of Guyana, his experiences and success in Guyana and his eventual return to India.

b. Keisha McCammon, Dancehall Lyrics : Top of the Charts
Dancehall Lyrics–by Keisha McCammon: A fast-moving contemporary work of fiction centered around a much-acclaimed Dancehall singer, Aaron Mills (known as A.M.). The fiction casts interesting light on the Dancehall music scene in Guyana.

c. Subraj Singh, Rebelle and Other Stories
Rebelle–by Subraj Singh A first collection of wonderfully written short stories, rich with the flavour, culture and folklore of coastal Guyana. An enjoyable read.

Best First Book of Poetry:
a. Cedric Castello, Rasta Lyrics (Caribbean Press)
Rasta Lyrics–by Cedric Castello: A first collection by a Rastafarian teacher/singer/songwriter: these rich and very readable poems range over the author’s many interests and activities and celebrate Rastafarianism and its founder, Haile Selassie I.

b. Stanley Niamatali, The Hinterlands (Caribbean Press)
The Hinterlands–by Stanley Niamatali: A wonderful debut collection of poems centered around the author’s haunting memories of life on a sawmill in the Berbice river. The poet, now living in the US, straddles two cultures and his poems depict and question the values of both.

Best Book of Fiction:
a. David Dabydeen, Johnson’s Dictionary (Peepal Tree)
Johnson’s Dictionary–by David Dabydeen: This novel depicts and juxtaposes, in Dabydeen’s richly textured and sensuous prose, the two worlds of 18th century London and British Guyana (Demerara). It also contains several echoes of previous Dabydeen literary and scholarly works that depict the 18th century: William Hogarth, William Turner, Samuel Johnson…Adam Smith…The novel transforms past and present into the sensuous, imaginative world(s) of the author and is a tour de force of Imperial will, art, literature and human sensuality–a compelling read.

b. Jan Lowe Shinebourne, The Last Ship (Peepal Tree)
The Last Ship–by Jan Lowe Shinebourne: A historically and culturally important novel about three generations of a Chinese family in Guyana. The physical conditions, the family myths and the invented traditions are powerfully evoked in a simple and direct language. A novel that will resonate strongly with the Guyanese reader.

c. Oonya Kempadoo, All Decent Animals (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
All Decent Animals–by Oonya Kempadoo: Kempadoo’s fast-moving third novel is about a variety of characters and interests woven into the complex fabric of Trinidadian life and culture–prominently including Carnival. The language is rich and sensuous and will remind readers of their pleasure in the earlier Kempadoo novels, Buxton Spice and Tide Running.

Best Book of Poetry:
a. Cyril Dabydeen, God’s Spider (Peepal Tree)
God’s Spider–by Cyril Dabydeen: A collection of carefully-wrought and polished poems that celebrate the many places and cultures that have shaped the poet’s consciousness–including his native Guyana, Canada (where he now lives) and India. These physical/mental/cultural landscapes breathe extraordinary life and feeling into the poems.

b. Maggie Harris, 60 Years of Loving (Cane Arrow Press)
60 Years of Loving–by Maggie Harris: This is Harris’s sixth collection of poetry and it evokes her 60 years of life in Guyana and the UK. These 74 richly textured, mature and celebratory poems sparkle and impress with a language that resonates with original imagery and insight. (NOTE: HARRIS contributed a copy of her book Kiskadee Girl to the 2014 Wadadli Pen prize package)

c. Sasenarine Persaud, Love in the Time of Technology (Tsar Publications)
Love in the time of Technology–by Sasenarine Persaud: A fine collection of brief, succinct poems. The imagery is emotionally charged and reverberates with cultural memories: the references to the language, traditions and cultures of India are particularly poignant and interesting.

Best Book of Drama:
a. Harold Bascom, Desperate for Relevance
Desperate for Relevance–by Harold Bascom: An interesting drama script in which most of the characters are dead Caribbean writers. Funny in parts, it is also in parts a sad and poignant commentary on the plight of our writers and societies…The writing makes the reader long to see it powerfully enacted on the local stage.

b. Milton Bruce, New York New York of Pieces of Dreams
New York, New York–by Milton Bruce: A carefully contrived and interesting play about the lives, the dreams and the disappointments of Guyanese immigrants in New York.

See all books and the official announcement re the shortlist: Guyana Prize For Literature 2014 Shortlist – Final Guyana Prize 2014 Shortlist

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