The CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature 2018

Guyanese author Imam Baksh is the 2018 winner of the CODE Burt Award

L-R: Alex Wheatle (2018 Judge), Shakirah Bourne (2018 finalist), Imam Baksh (2018 winner), Elizabeth J. Jones (2018 finalist), and Janet Smyth (2018 Head Judge) at the award ceremony on 25 April. Missing: Karen Lord (2018 Judge).

Award-winning Guyanese author Imam Baksh has been named this year’s winner of the CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature. Baksh received the first prize of $10,000 CAD for his manuscript The Dark of the Sea on the opening night of the 2018 NGC Bocas Lit Fest in Port-of-Spain. This is his second time winning the award. 

Award-winning Barbadian writer and filmmaker Shakirah Bourne received a finalist prize for her YA manuscript, My Fishy Stepmom. Meanwhile, freelance writer, editor and tutor Elizabeth J. Jones received a finalist prize for her first YA novel A Dark Iris.

Each finalist took home a prize of $2,000 CAD. All three winning novels are still at the manuscript stage. As part of the award programme, CODE helps to connect the winning authors to Caribbean publishers and their books will be published in 2019. CODE also purchases and distributes up to 2,500 copies of each winning title.

The 2018 finalists were selected from over 30 submissions of both published books and unpublished manuscripts from around the Caribbean.

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. 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 2018 CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature 

Now in its fifth year, the CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Literature recognizes up to three English-language literary works for young adults (aged 12 through 18) written by Caribbean authors.

This year, the winning title will be awarded $10,000 CDN, and two finalists will be awarded $2,000 CDN each.

Publishers of winning titles will be awarded a guaranteed purchase of up to 2,500 copies, which will be donated to schools, libraries, and literacy organizations throughout the region. To date, more than 37,000 copies of winning books have made their way into the hands of Caribbean youth.

Published books, previously self-published books, and unpublished manuscripts are eligible for the award. Eligible books and unpublished manuscripts may be submitted to the Bocas Lit Fest by publishers registered and operating in the Caribbean. Unpublished manuscripts or previously self-published books may be submitted by authors directly to the Bocas Lit Fest. 

The deadline for submissions was 31 October 2017.  Download the 2018 Eligibility and Entry Guidelines for more information. (Please note that our guidelines are updated every year).

The 2017 Winners 

The winners of CODE’s 4th annual Burt Award for Caribbean Literature were announced at an award ceremony on 26 April 2017 during the NGC Bocas Lit Fest. CODE has facilitated the publication of these winning titles by Caribbean publishers and purchased up to 2,500 copies of each. These books will be donated to schools, libraries, and community organizations across the region through CODE’s network of local partners. All three winning titles will be launched at the 2018 NGC Bocas Lit Fest on 26 April. 

Viviana Prado-Núñez (Puerto Rico/USA) — first prize of $10,000 CAD for her self-published novel, The Art of White Roses.

Kevin Jared Hosein (Trinidad & Tobago) — second prize of $7000 CAD for his unpublished novel The Beast of Kukuyo.

Lisa Allen-Agostini (Trinidad & Tobago) — third prize of $5000 CAD for her unpublished novel Waiting for the Bus.


Announcing the release of the 2016 winning books 

We’re excited to see these three excellent YA titles available online and in bookshops near you! And, CODE will be donating up to 7,500 copies of these books to children’s institutions, schools and libraries throughout the Caribbean.   

Dreams Beyond the Shore

Tamika Gibson serves up a fascinating and stirring debut novel about growing up and accepting who you are, regardless of who your parents may be. Buoyed by the rhythms, heat and lyrical lilt of contemporary Trinidad and Tobago, Dreams Beyond the Shore is a heartwarming story declaring that decisions matter far more than destiny.

First place winner of the 2016 Burt Award for Caribbean Literature

Published by Blue Banyan Books. Read more here


Florenz Webbe Maxwell takes a little known fact about Caribbean history and weaves an engaging tale that speaks eloquently to the contemporary experience. Girlcott takes you beyond the image of Bermuda as a piece of paradise and charts a narrative of resistance, hope and the importance of fighting for change. 

Second place winner of the 2016 Burt Award for Caribbean Literature. 

Published by Blue Banyan Books. 

The Protector's Pledge

A fast-paced adventure set deep in a Caribbean forest with a hero who must risk everything to save the forest and his village.

For ages 9 – 12. 

Third place winner of the 2016 Burt Award for Caribbean Literature

Published by CaribbeanReads. Read more here