Monique Roffey's ARCHIPELAGO has won the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. The award, now in its third year, awards a prize of $10,000 and was presented to Monique at a ceremony in Port of Spain in her native Trinidad. The award was won before by Earl Lovelace and Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott.
ARCHIPELAGO chronicles the geographical and psychological journey of a man, his daughter and their dog across the sea. Leaving a home haunted by memories, the trio travel to unknown harbours and encounter the natural world around them like never before. The novel is in part a response to tragic circumstances that befell Monique's brother, who she acknowledged and thanked (along with her mother) in her acceptance speech.
Jamaican author Olive Senior, the chair of the judging committee, spoke of ARCHIPELAGO as containing 'an exploration of the greater Caribbean space in which is embedded a real-life story of trauma, loss and ultimately redemption that is both contemporary and uplifting.'
Speaking of Trinidad, her birthplace and the inspiration for ARCHIPELAGO, Monique said 'The history, culture and politics are so rich, I can't stay indifferent. I can't not get caught up, impacted on - spiritually, emotionally, psychologically. This is not a little place I can take or leave, or outgrow. Every time I come back I get completely snared.'
ARCHIPELAGO is published in the UK by Simon & Schuster, where the paperback will be available in June. Viking publish in the US in May and Brazilian rights are sold to Bertrand.
Praise for ARCHIPELAGO:
'Roffey's stirring novel is one to place on the shelf next to Moby Dick and other notable seafaring stories... Roffey (THE WHITE WOMAN ON THE GREEN BICYCLE) is a masterful writer whose words are subsumed in the pictures they paint and the tales they spin.' -- Publishers Weekly
'ARCHIPELAGO is beautifully done. There's a warmth to it, an exuberance and a wisdom. It's funny, and sometimes bitingly poignant. Monique Roffey writes the male central character so well, and as for the little girl at the centre of the story, it's one of the most vivid and charming portraits of a young child I can remember reading in years. A brilliant piece of storytelling.' -- Andrew Miller, Costa Prize Winner, author of PURE and INGENIOUS PAIN
'A sparkling portrayal of the Caribbean, the outer layer of the plot is a magical sea voyage through the islands between Trinidad and the Panama Canal. The real story of ARCHIPELAGO, however, is a deeply moving journey through grief…Roffey conjures up pictures of the Caribbean without glossing over the problems.' -- Kate Saunders, We Love This Book
'ARCHIPELAGO travels to new, intoxicating latitudes…The result is an adventure blazing with a lust for life… …[This is a] big-hearted Moby-Dick story for our times.' -- Kapka Kassabova, The Guardian
'Islands are everywhere in this stunningly rendered novel, reminding or teaching us anew about our individual selves against their history-mired backdrops…The novel is replete with achingly beautiful descriptions of the world that frames these seafarers…' -- Shivanee Ramlochan, Trinidad Guardian