YESTERDAY’S ANNOUNCEMENT THAT the 2014 Crocodile Prize will for the first time feature a Book of the Year award set off a ripple of interest on Twitter, including attracting the attention of the literary editor of The Australian newspaper, Stephen Romei.
The Crocodile Prize Organising Group, COG, in designing the 2014 Prize, included published books as a new category in the awards. It believes the nascent PNG book publishing industry, facilitated by electronic publishing, has reached a point where it will benefit from such recognition.
COG says it is the first time a national award has been instituted for book length writing in PNG.
In 2013 so far, at least three books by Papua New Guineans have been published (the links are to reviews) – Francis Nii’s novel Fitman, Raitman & Cooks and Leonard Fong Roka’s collections of stories (Moments in Bougainville) and poetry (The Pomong U’tau of Dreams).
The 2014 Crocodile Prize includes five categories of writing with a K5,000 prize in each – short story, poetry, essay, heritage and book. You can find full details and the entry form, here.
Around the time of Independence in 1975 and thereafter, there began a bountiful PNG book publishing industry which included The Crocodile by Vincent Eri, Ten Thousand Years in a Lifetime by Albert Maori Kiki, Sana by Michael Somare, My Mother Calls Me Yaltep by Ignatius Kilage, My Childhood in New Guinea by Paulias Matane and Wanpis by Russell Soaba.
But in succeeding years, starved of recognition and a nurturing environment, Papua New Guinean literature languished and book length writing almost disappeared.