Fear of A Black Nation by Jamaica’s David Austin wins Casa Award for Caribbean Literature

The winner of the Casa de las Américas Literary Award for Caribbean Literature (2014) is Fear of a Black Nation – Race, Sex, and Security in Sixties Montreal by David Austin from Jamaica.

Fear of a Black Nation by David Austin, winner of Casa de las Americas prize in Caribbean Literature in English or Creole, 2014.

Fear of a Black Nation by David Austin, winner of Casa de las Americas prize in Caribbean Literature in English or Creole, 2014.

The winning book was announced by the St. Martin publisher/author Lasana M. Sekou at the announcement ceremony for the 55th anniversary of the Casa de las Américas prize in Havana.

Sekou was in Cuba as one of 22 jurors, invited by Casa to review and analyze some 380 books submitted by Caribbean and Latin American authors for the Casa prize competition of 2014.

The jurors for the “Caribbean Literature in English or Creole” category called Fear of a Black Nation “an authoritative introductory text that extends significantly into the 21st century, the complex notions and indivisible historical realities of ‘nuestro caribe,’ ‘la America nuestra,’ and the ‘Black Power’ movements to Canada.”

The prose nonfiction book was further described as “original, with extensive, integrative scholarship, and reader-friendly.” Austin, based in Canada, is considered to be a preeminent scholar on Black Power and Black Canadian and Caribbean politics.

Lasana Sekou (at microphone) announcing the coveted Casa prize for Fear of a Black Nation – Race, Sex, and Security in Sixties Montreal by David Austin (Jamaica). (Photo: Casa de las Americas)

Lasana Sekou (at microphone) announcing the coveted Casa prize for Fear of a Black Nation – Race, Sex, and Security in Sixties Montreal by David Austin (Jamaica). (Photo: Casa de las Americas)

After ten days of deliberation in Cienfuegos and Havana, said Jorge Fornet at the announcement ceremony, the jury awarded the Casa de las Américas Literary Award in the categories of short fiction, theater, essay, Brazilian literature, Caribbean literature in English or Creole, and women’s studies. Fornet is the director of the Center for Literary Research at Casa de las Américas.

“The Cuban-based Casa prize is the oldest and most prestigious pan-Caribbean award for literary excellence and undeniably one of the oldest and most coveted prizes for Latin American literature,” said Sekou.

The Caribbean Literature prize consists of $3,000 or its equivalent in the corresponding national currency. In addition, the book receiving the award will be translated into Spanish and up to 10,000 copies will be published by Casa, according to the cultural and research institution.

The winning titles in the six categories for the Casa de las Américas Award 2014 are: short fiction, Cosas peores by Margarita García Robayo (Colombia); theater, Blanco con sangre negra by Aejandro Román Bahena (Mexico); essay (artistic and/or literary theme), José Lezama Lima: estética e historiografía del arte en su obra crítica by Carlos Orlando Fino Gómez (Colombia); Brazilian literature, Marighella: o guerrilheiro que incendiou o mundo by Mário Magalhães; Caribbean Literature in English or Creole, Fear of a Black Nation – Race, Sex, and Security in Sixties Montreal by David Austin (Jamaica); and women’s studies, La loca inconfirmable. Apropiaciones feministas de Manuela Sáenz (1944-1963) by Mariana Libertad Suárez (Venezuela).

Chilean author Alejandra Costamagna announcing the Casa award for Cosas peores by Margarita García Robayo (Colombia). (Photo: Casa de las Americas)

Chilean author Alejandra Costamagna announcing the Casa award for Cosas peores by Margarita García Robayo (Colombia). (Photo: Casa de las Americas)

Judges were able to grant a “mention” or “honorable mention” to non-awarded books that they felt should be acknowledged but “mention” books do not receive any reward from Casa de las Américas. However, the “mention” books were announced along with the Casa Award titles to the media and the some 200 guests at the announcement ceremony in the Che Guevara Hall of the iconic Casa building, said Sekou.

In the Caribbean literature category the honorable mention went to the prose fiction title The Night of the Rambler by Montague Kobbe (Anguilla). The Casa 2014 jurors came from Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, St. Martin, Puerto Rico, Dominican Rep., and Cuba.

Previous winners of the Casa literary prize include Kamau Brathwaite, Eduardo Hughes Galeano, Marion Bethel, Oonya Kempadoo, Roque Dalton, Jennifer Rahim, and Nicole Cage. Founded in 1959, “Casa de las Américas promotes, researches, supports, awards and publishes the work of writers, sculptures, musicians, and other artists and students of literature and the arts,” according to Wikipedia.

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