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News & Features » April 2014 » Robert Antoni Wins 2014 OCM Bocas Prize!

Robert Antoni Wins 2014 OCM Bocas Prize!

AsFliestoWhatlessBoysCongratulations to Robert Antoni, who has won the 2014 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature for his novel As Flies to Whatless Boys!

From the Trinidad Express:

Antoni was announced as the winner from the top three writers for his book As Flies to Whatless Boys at an awards ceremony at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA), Port of Spain, on Saturday.

The other finalists were Lorna Goodison in the poetry category for Oracabessa (Carcanet) and Kei Miller for his non-fiction work Writing Down the Vision: Essays and Prophecies.

Antoni expressed thanks to his publisher Johnny Temple and then hailed his competitors as winners.

“Lorna said yesterday that you can’t compare oranges and mangoes and this prize, it’s wonderful, it’s necessary, it’s up to us in the Caribbean to decide who we are, to take a place on the world stage. But my dear friend Lorna is a winner, my new friend Kei is a winner and so whatever the money prize is, I would like to divide it into three between the three of us,” said Antoni.

The OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature is a major award for literary books by Caribbean writers. Books were entered in three categories: poetry, fiction, and literary non-fiction. The US$10,000 prize is sponsored by One Caribbean Media.

Chief judge Linton Kwesi Johnson said choosing this year’s winner was a difficult task but it was unanimously decided by the judging panel to name Antoni as the winner.

He described Antoni’s book as “a humorous and poignant novel, is a tall tale, an Anancy-like yarn that is deftly spun as it revels in Trini speech.”

In a video presentation which featured the three finalists, Antoni disclosed that he spent 15 years working on the novel.

He said the first few years involved finding everything he possibly could on the historian John Adolphus Etzler and then he eventually realised he did not want to write a historical novel about the Tuckers but instead an intimate family tale about them.

“For me the most basic definition of a novel is a community of voices and I want to hear each of them individually in my ears and on the page. I always say that the most difficult task for a writer is to get himself out of the way so he can hear his characters,” said Antoni.

“So for me the task of writing involves a great deal of very hard listening. It takes me a long time to come to my voices, it’s a long wait but once I begin to hear them then I can almost step back and become the recipient, the vessel, I let them speak through me,” he added.

Congratulations, Robert!

Posted: Apr 28, 2014

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