Barbados, Guyana, and Bermuda Finalists for 2018 Burt Award

The Burt Award for Caribbean teen/young adult fiction is sponsored by Canadian non-profit CODE and administered by Trinidad and Tobago’s Bocas Literary Festival. The winner will be announced at this year’s festival, scheduled for April 25th to 29th 2018. In the running are Shakirah M. Bourne of Barbados (below right), Imam Baksh of Guyana (below left), and Elizabeth J. Jones of Bermuda (below middle).


Here’s the announcement making the rounds:

CODE and NGC Bocas Lit Fest are thrilled to announce the finalists for the 5th annual CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature. This year’s finalists were selected from over 30 submissions of both published books and unpublished manuscripts from around the Caribbean.

In alphabetical order by title, the 2018 finalists are:
A Dark Iris by Elizabeth J. Jones (Bermuda)

Jury Summary: “A sophisticated ‘speculative fiction’ story that reveals the realities of adolescence; crushes, family problems, and school. The main character is real and relatable.

My Fishy Stepmom by Shakirah Bourne (Barbados)

Jury Summary: “A delightful story that is charmingly funny. With a folktale antagonist, the shenanigans that result as the main character fights to preserve her bonds of family and friendship are heartwarming.”

The Dark of the Sea by Imam Baksh (Guyana)

Jury Summary: “A compelling page turner, this fantastical adventure story follows the journey of a young man who is rebellious, unimpressed by education and religion, cynical about the future, and obsessed with girls. The humour is dark, the morality complicated, …and the victories bittersweet.”

The winner and two finalists will be announced on 25 April 2018 at the opening night celebration of the 2018 NGC Bocas Lit Fest in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Celebrating YA literature will continue throughout the NGC Bocas Lit Fest.

Since 2014 a dedicated network of local partners has distributed more than 37,000 award-winning books in eleven Caribbean countries. We look forward to seeing this year’s winning books published and distributed to youth throughout the Caribbean.


I would like to add my congratulations to the finalists. It’s no secret that this award is one that means a lot to me – since being a finalist in the inaugural year, 2014, I’ve had the opportunity to work with CODE as a workshop facilitator and a mentor to the Africa leg of the programme (which also has a Canada leg focused on the First nations community), and as a judge with Bocas. I like that the programme in Canada, the Caribbean, and Africa is opening up publishing opportunities for those underserved by the industry. As for the Caribbean leg, I like that it’s leading to the production of new, or increased promotion and distribution of, books that are culturally relevant and whether historical, modern, or futuristic engaging to the teen/young adult reader. Having grown up reading so many books from overseas, it’s nice to know that today’s Caribbean teen has more options. I also like that it not only gives Caribbean independent presses an opportunity but insists on publishing with Caribbean publishers, which can only be good for the industry in the region. The books are distributed throughout the region – and, of course, a savvy publisher will also work to build the overseas readership as well. So, because of the opportunities it offers to Caribbean writers, teen/young adult readers, and publishing industry, I hope this programme has the resources to keep going. I mean, look at the literature that has come out of it already:

all over again - cover FAW 05JUN2013All Over Again by A-dZiko Simba Gegele (1st place, 2014) – author from: Jamaica; published by Blue Moon Publishing of Jamaica.

“All Over Again is a hilarious and enchanting coming of age story as a young boy goes through the trials and joys and puberty, battles with his 6-year-old sister who is the bane of his existences, worries about disappointing his mother and understanding his father…”

rosesThe Art of White Roses by Viviana Prado-Nunez (1st place, 2017) – author from: Puerto Rico; published by Papillote Press of Dominica/UK.

“It is 1957, in a quiet Havana suburb. Adela Santiago is 13 and lives in a small blue house with her family. But something is amiss…”

HoseinThe Beast of Kukuyo by Kevin Jared Hosein ( 2nd place, 2017) – author from: Trinidad and Tobago; published by Blue Banyan Books of Jamaica.

“You’re standing alongside Tiki and running next to Rune at the same time, looking for clues in the forest and admiring the beautiful Trinidadian landscape as you move through this adventurous tale…”

children of the spider 001Children of the Spider by Imam Baksh (1st place, 2015) – author from: Guyana; published by Blue Moon Publishing of Jamaica.

“Mayali is a fugitive from her home world of Zolpash, which is ruled by the Spider gods and their armies, who now have plans to invade Earth—it’s up to Mayali to thwart them…”

dancing in the rain 001Dancing in the Rain by Lynn Joseph (3rd place, 2015) – author from: Trinidad and Tobago; published by Blue Moon Publishing of Jamaica.

“Set against the dazzling beauty of the Dominican Republic, Dancing in the Rain explores the impact of the tragic fall of the Twin Towers on two Caribbean families…”

Dreams-Beyond-the-Shore-front-lr-190x300Dreams Beyond the Shore by Tamika Gibson (1st place, 2016) – author from: Trinidad and Tobago; published by: Blue Banyan Books of Jamaica.

“Seventeen-year-old Chelsea Marchand was pretty satisfied with her life. Until recently. Willing to play the dutiful daughter as her father’s bid to become Prime Minister of their island home brings her family into intense public scrutiny, Chelsea is swept along by the strong tidal wave of politics and becomes increasingly disturbed by her father’s duplicity…”

Girlcott-cover-192x300Girlcott by Florenz Webbe Maxwell (2nd place, 2016) – author from Bermuda; published by Blue Banyan Books of Jamaica.

“A week ago, Desma Johnson had only two things on her mind – in exactly eight days, she would be sixteen years old and to top it off she was inline for a top scholarship, bringing her one step closer to her dreams. Life was perfect and nothing would get in the way of her birthday plans. But it’s 1959 and the secret Progressive Group has just announced a boycott of all cinemas in Bermuda in order to end racial segregation…”

Papillote_-_Gone_to_DriftGone to Drift by Diana McCaulay (2nd place, 2015)  – author from Jamaica; published by Papillote Press of Dominica/UK.

“The story of a 12-year-old Jamaican boy and his search for his beloved grandfather, a fisherman who is lost at sea…”

agostiniHome Home by Lisa Allen-Agostini (3rd place, 2017) – author from Trinidad and Tobago; published by Papillote Press of Dominica/UK.

“A coming-of-age tale with a twist: a clinically depressed Trinidadian teenager, who has attempted suicide, is banished by her mother to Canada to live with her aunt. She feels lonely and in exile. But…”

innerInner City Girl by Colleen Smith-Dennis (3rd place, 2014) – author from Jamaica; published by LMH Publishing Company of Jamaica.

“Martina does the unthinkable: a poor girl from the inner city gains entry into one of the most prestigious high schools in the country. Milverton High, situated on a hill with its picturesque surroundings, students from the upper echelons of society and teachers who do not neccessarily understand, contrasts with the poverty, hunger and family problems which Martina encounters. But Martina is not about to succumb to ridicule, rejection, and poverty…”

Musical YouthMusical Youth by Joanne C. Hillhouse (2nd place, 2014) – author from Antigua and Barbuda; published by Caribbean Reads of St. Kitts-Nevis/USA.

“Zahara is a loner. She’s brilliant on the guitar but in everyday life she doesn’t really fit in. Then she meets Shaka, himself a musical genius and the first boy who really gets her. They discover that they share a special bond…”

Protectors-pledge-cover-187x300The Protectors’ Pledge by Daniel V. C. Mclean (3rd place, 2016) – author from Trinidad and Tobago; published by Caribbean Reads of St. Kitt’s-Nevis/USA

“Twelve-year-old JV can’t wait to spend his vacation exploring the Oscuros Forest. True, everyone in the village of Alcavere believes the Oscuros Forest is a place to be feared, inhabited by dangerous and magical beings. But JV is not afraid, even when his first trip into the forest brings him face-to-face with a mysterious creature…”

And now there are three more books to look forward to.

Two finals thoughts. If you have a teen in your life, there’s got to be something on this list that appeals to them and if you’re a writer, embrace this opportunity to put your name and your country on this list, and potentially put your book in the hands of readers across the Caribbean and beyond.

As with all content (words, images, other) on, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

1 Comment

Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business

One response to “Barbados, Guyana, and Bermuda Finalists for 2018 Burt Award

  1. Reblogged this on jhohadli and commented:
    This post on underrated young adult novels had me reflecting on the underrated teen/young adult books from right here in the Caribbean and while there are much more than the ones to be found on this list, these Burt Award winning teen/young adult Caribbean novels, all of them teased here, including my own Musical Youth, has moved me to ask…so what’s your teen reading this summer?

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