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Kingston, Jamaica: October 14, 2015 – Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, has extended congratulations to Jamaican author Marlon James on winning Britain’s most prestigious literary award, the Man Booker prize for his novel – “A Brief History of Seven Killings”.
“The creative and performing arts and popular culture are an integral aspect of the Jamaican ethos. Our achievers on the international stage and gifted individuals like Mr. James help define us as a people and burnish our reputation worldwide as a very special place with unique attributes,” said Minister McNeill.
“The Entertainment Division of our Ministry is always focused on the promotion and support for the creative arts as a legitimate area for national development as well as its economic potential,” Minister McNeill said, adding that “the Literary Arts sub-committee of the Entertainment Advisory Board (EAB) is evidence of the Ministry’s commitment to promote and nourish our creative and performing artists.”
The Ministry’s activities include the Arts in the Park initiative which seeks to increase the quality of local entertainment offerings. This provides international booking agents and talent scouts with opportunities to sign local acts. Another project is the move to establish entertainment zones island-wide, which seeks to address the problem of noise disturbances caused by entertainment events held in and around residential areas. Historically, events and concerts by local promoters and artistes have nurtured local talent and provided them with income. The appointment of a Poet Laureate was also initiated by the EAB’s Arts sub-committee and has exposed Jamaican culture to a wider audience.
Chairman of the EAB’s Literary Arts sub-committee, Justine Henzel, added her congratulations to Mr. James, stating, “The Jamaica Tourist Board has sponsored the Calabash International Literary Festival since its inception in 2001 as it recognizes not only that the festival attracts visitors to Jamaica but that it also acts as an incredibly important developmental tool for the literary arts in the island. Calabash has given Jamaican writers access to a wide array of authors and poets from all over the world who are at the pinnacle of the craft while simultaneously allowing space for emerging writers to have an audience through the Open Mic segment of the Festival.”
Ms. Henzel pointed out that the Calabash Trust also hosts fiction and poetry workshops and most recently in 2015 a screenwriters workshop. At the initial Calabash Writers Workshop Marlon James was encouraged to dig up a discarded manuscript which became his first novel John Crows Devil. In 2005 John Crows Devil was published by another sponsor of Calabash, the New York based publisher Akashic Books.
Other Jamaican authors and poets who have achieved great international acclaim such as Kei Miller, Claudia Rankine, Dionne Brand and Elizabeth Alexander have all graced the Calabash stage and continue to make Jamaica proud.