Allison Cadogan: 2015 Colly Winner

IT WAS three times a charm for Allison Cadogan.

On January 9, the Barbadian writer won the 2015 Frank Collymore Literary Award for her novel manuscript The Economist.

She had previously been shortlisted in 2010, earning Joint 2nd Prize with Glenville Lovell (there was no top winner that year) and in 2012, when another manuscript of hers won the Prime Minister's Award.

This time, she alone held the coveted Colly—Barbados' most lucrative literary prize.

The other writers on the 2015 shortlist included Glenville Lovell (2nd Prize), Cherie Jones (3rd Prize), Ahmad Desai (Prime Minister's Award), and Mark Ramsay (Honourable Mention).    

The members of the current judging panel of the Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Committee are DeCarla Applewhaite, Professor Jane Bryce, Ayesha Gibson-Gill, Dana Gilkes, Professor Mark McWatt, Esther Phillips, Christine Rocheford, P. Antonio "Boo" Rudder, Dame Patricia Symmonds, and David "Andy" Taitt.

The judges described Cadogan's book in their citation as "remarkable for its economy of style and unusual structure, combined with a complex plot and numerous different social themes. Moving backwards and forwards in time, it shows us both what happened, and the after-effects of that happening. A young man, Benji, wins a scholarship to the London School of Economics. Shortly before he's due to leave, [after a night out with friends, he's left] mentally incapacitated.  The rest of the narrative tells of his sister Belle’s struggle [to find out what happened to Benji and why]. The novel offers a realistic portrait of a community, with good and bad characters, in the form of a mystery story…."

Cadogan, who is vice-president in charge of creative services at G&A Communications, took home $10,000.00 for her manuscript's "avoidance of cliches and its literary qualities."  She had this to say about the award, her writing, and the winning work:

"I'd never heard of the Frank Collymore Literary Award until 2010, when [ArtsEtc Editor and writer] Robert Sandiford introduced it to me. I was stoked—the prize money was good. That year I entered and won 2nd Prize, which made me determined to win 1st, not simply for the bigger cash prize, but I knew the high standards upheld by this prestigious body would push me to refine my skills.

"When I started The Economist, I was already at a reasonable word count with two other novels. But true events that I would have heard of in bits and pieces when I was about six years old came to mind and stayed with me. I had to write the story. So I put aside the other works. The beginning and the end came to me first, which is how I write most of the time. I drew from the Nation and Advocate of 1979, 1986 and 1993 in order to pull the story together. It is a work of fiction inspired by truth."

Read an exclusive excerpt from The Economist here.