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Before the Bocas: A guest post by Nathalie Taghaboni

Posted: April 19th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Books, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Trinidad-born Nathalie Taghaboni is the author of the Savanoy series: Across From Lapeyrouse, Santimanitay and Side By Side We Stand.  She very generously agreed to do a guest post on my blog in anticipation of the 2017 NGC Bocas Lit Fest in Port-of-Spain, which she’s taking part in.

 

Perhaps if I had to find one word to describe these weeks and days leading up to the 2017 Bocas Lit Fest, I would probably chose “unreal”. Everything, even the very real and necessary planning took on a dreamlike quality.

I think it was back in 2012 when I first heard of Bocas. When I left the country, there was no such thing and I was no author. My first formally published work started in 2001 with a weekly column in a Toronto newspaper called SHARE. I was writing social commentary á la picong with all the Trinidad Nation Language you could shake a stick at. A book was a vague something-something in the back room of my mind. Even after I self-published a collection of those columns, the book idea was only slightly less nebulous.

My first novel started taking shape in my head before I was aware of it. This might sound crazy but I never protest not to be. I wrote the novel, printed a few hundred copies and figured most of them would end up in my basement as a condo for mice. So imagine my surprise when the book that had eschewed the formal writing style, opting for a storytelling style, sold out and demand made it imperative to reprint. The story was good and folks wanted more.

It was after the book was out that I heard about Bocas. I nervously sent in my poorly edited book to the New York judge on the same day that the US east coast was flooded by a storm. He emailed to say the book was destroyed. It took that Act of God for me to become determined. I sent another book to him but never made it to the long list. The story was poorly presented, I knew that, but rather than give up, I dug in my heels and wrote the sequel. A far, far better work.

But a self-publishing stint is expensive and with the second novel, part two in my unexpected series, I simply could not afford to enter the Bocas Lit Fest. I spent the next few years saving and writing until July 2016 when the third and final installment was published. I submitted the book and sat on pins and needles awaiting the list announcement.

During my wait something else was happening, slowly, surely. All along, folks were reading, supporting, encouraging me and my style of storytelling. I received an invitation to speak on a panel at Bocas.

If you know me at all, you know I am never short for words. The email invitation left me speechless. It cushioned the blow of not making the long list of 2017 Bocas Lit Fest Prize authors.

Yet, this ex-pat, writing all alone in arguably the most culturally bereft state of the Disunited States of Twitler, is coming home with her humble offering to talk with and listen to other Caribbean authors. I am looking forward to the opportunity and honour.

Can’t wait to tell you how it went!

Nathalie Taghaboni will speak on the panel Family Ties (along with Aliyyah Eniath, author of The Yard), April 28, 3- 4 pm, Old Fire Station, during the Bocas Lit Fest.

 

 


I’m shortlisted for the CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Literature… and it’s not a joke

Posted: April 1st, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Awards, Publications | No Comments »

Last June I was stranded in the Suriname Airport. That was an adventure in itself. But sweet are the uses of adversity, as Willy S used to say. One of the things I did while I was stuck there for two days was update an old manuscript I’d written nearly a decade ago called Waiting for the Bus.

I submitted the update to a competition, the CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Literature, and waited.

The manuscript is pretty interesting, I think. I haven’t seen anything like it out of the Caribbean before, but I may be wrong. There actually might be another YA novel about a depressed teen girl whose attempted suicide is instrumental in her moving to Canada with her LGBTQ aunt… but I’m pretty doubtful there’s any Caribbean YA novel treating with these themes right now.

Anyway, I’ve been shortlisted for the award along with my fellow Trinidadian writer Kevin Jared Hosein. (He’s on a winning streak, that one. Book published by Peepal Tree Press, longlisted for the Bocas Prize in Fiction, and now this… he’s on fire! We also both have short fiction in the Lightspeed Special Issue People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction, co-edited by Nalo Hopkinson.)

Wish us luck!