A Nobel laureate, a MacArthur "genius" fellow and a first-time author are all shortlisted for the Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, the winner of which is to be announced during the first ever Bocas Literary Festival to be held in Trinidad this April. Here are the first lines from the three books shortlisted from Edwidge Danticat, Nobel laureate Derek Walcott and first-time author Tiphanie Yanique:
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>>>EDWIDGE DANTICAT: Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work (Princeton University Press, 208 pp.)
On November 12, 1964, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a huge crowd gathered to witness an execution. The president of Haiti at that time was the dictator Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, who was seven years into what would be a fifteen-year term. On the day of the execution, he decreed that government offices be closed so that hundreds of state employees could be in the crowd. Schools were shut down and principals ordered to bring their students. Hundreds of people from outside the capital were bused in to watch.
--from Chapter 1, p. 1.
>>>DEREK WALCOTT: White Egrets (Faber and Faber, 86 pp.)
The chessmen are as rigid on their chessboard
as those life-sized terra-cotta warriors whose vows
to their emperor with bridle, shield and sword
were sworn by a chorus that has lost its voice;
no echo in that astonishing excavation.
Each soldier gave an oath, each gave his word
to die for his emperor, his clan, his nation,
to become a chess piece, breathlessly erect
in shade or crossing sunlight, within hours--
from clay to clay and odourlessly strict.
If vows were visible they might see ours
as changeless chessmen in the changing light
on the lawn outside where bannered breakers toss
and the palms gust with music that is time's
above the chessmen's silence. Motion brings loss.
A sable blackbird twitters in the limes.
--from p. 3
>>>TIPHANIE YANIQUE: How to Escape a Leper Colony (Graywolf Press, 240pp.)
Babalao Chuck said that when they found the gun it was still in the volunteer's pulsing hands. The child was covered in his mother's blood and body. Her red sari redder. The volunteers at the leper colonies were young Trinidadian doctors and British journalists and criminals trading time in jail for time among lepers, and sometimes young people who carried tiny Bibles in their pockets. No one ever told me which kind killed Lazaro's mother. The volunteer was asked to leave and that was to be the end of it.
--from Introduction, p. 1.
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READ more about the Bocas Lit Fest here.