Finalists for the 2018 CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature Announced

Burt Award for Caribbean sealFinalists to be published and distributed to hundreds of schools, libraries, and community organizations across the Caribbean.

(Port of Spain, March 26, 2018) — CODE and NGC Bocas Lit Fest are proud to announce the finalists for the 5th Annual CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature. Established by CODE—a Canadian charitable organization that has been advancing literacy and learning for 59 years—with the generous support of William (Bill) Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation, the award recognizes excellent, engaging and culturally-relevant books in English for youth (ages 12-18) written by Caribbean authors.

This year’s finalists were selected by a three-member jury made up of writing, publishing and educational professionals with expertise in young adult literature. The jury was administered by NGC Bocas Lit Fest. The finalists were selected from over 30 submissions of both published books and unpublished manuscripts. 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. Along 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 April 25, 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 with the 2018 finalists visiting secondary schools on Wednesday 25 April, and the launch of the 2017 winning books on Thursday, April 26. Writers who are interested in developing stories for young adult readers can participate in a writing workshop with renowned writer Alex Wheatle on Friday, April 27 (register at

This year, the creator of the winning book will be awarded $10,000 CDN. The two other finalists will be awarded $2,000 CDN each. In addition, publishers of all three books will each be granted a guaranteed purchase of a minimum 2,000 copies.

CODE’s purchase helps to support the development of high quality, culturally relevant books.  A dedicated network of local partners throughout the region has worked with CODE since 2014 to distribute more than 37,000 award-winning books in eleven Caribbean countries. Their efforts ensure Caribbean youth have access to great books in their schools, libraries and community organizations.

The Boca Lit FestFor further details on the CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature, please visit: or

For more information, please contact:
Anna Lucie-Smith
(868) 222 7099


Monday, March 26, 2018
News Type: 
Burt Award News
In the News
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