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Imam Baksh Cops Second Burt Award Prize

L-R: Alex Wheatle (2018 Judge), Shakirah Bourne (2018 finalist), Imam Baksh (201

For the first time in its five year history, The Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature, a writer has won the award for second time. Guyanese author Imam Baksh copped the award for the second time with his manuscript The Dark of the Sea. The award was announced at the opening of the 2018 NGC Bocas Lit Fest held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. 

Baksh won the award for the first time in 2015 with his debut fantasy adventure novel Children of the Spider, published by Blouse & Skirt Books in 2016. Dark by the Sea follows in the vein of Children of the Spider as a fantasy adventure. Baksh was the first male writer to win the prize, and is actually one of only two winning male writers. The second, Kevin Jared Hosein (Trinidad and Tobago) won 2nd place in the 2017 awards for The Beast of Kukuyo, forthcoming from Blouse & Skirt Books.

The jury summary described the novel as a “compelling page turner” and featuring a rebellious protagonist. 

“The humour is dark, the morality complicated, … and the victories bittersweet,” The jury said of the winning novel. 

The two 2018 finalists hailed from Bermuda and Barbados. Elizabeth J. Jones makes it the second time a Bermudan author made it to the winning circle, following her countrywoman Florenz Webbe Maxwell whose historical novel Girlcott was one of the winning novels in 2016. 

Jones’s Dark Iris also received high praise from the jury. “[Dark Iris is] a sophisticated ‘speculative fiction’ story that reveals the realities of adolescence; crushes, family problems, and school.”

Shakira Bourne is the first Barbadian author to be among with Burt Award winners. Her novel My Fishy Stepmom brings a touch of folktale to the mix. The Jury described My Fishy Stepmom as “a delightful story that is charmingly funny.” 

Baksh took home a prize of CAD$10,000.00 while each of the finalists receive CAD$2,000.00. All three novels are at the manuscript stage and will be published in 2019. CODE, the Canadian foundation behind the award, will also purchase and distribute up to 2,500 copies of each title.

The winners were announced on April 25, at the opening event of the NGC Bocas Prize 2018.