YESTERDAY was the first ever International Day of Happiness, as declared by the United Nations.
And local book lovers, readers and writers were given a gift to help broaden their smiles.
The official media launch of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest 2013 took place yesterday at the National Library, Abercromby Street, Port of Spain.
Acting group executive Corporate Services at One Caribbean Media Ltd (OCM) Gregory Camejo yesterday questioned whether it was mere coincidence or divinely ordained that the launch happened on International Day of Happiness.
The four-day literary festival runs from April 25 to April 28, 2013.
One of the high points for the festival is the OCM Bocas Prize/Hollick Arvon Prize ceremony to be held on April 27.
The OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature of US$10,000 is sponsored by OCM, the largest media house in Trinidad and Tobago and owner of TV6, the Express and radio stations Hott 93 and i95.5fm.
The 2013 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature is a major regional award recognising Caribbean writers of poetry, fiction and non-fiction.
The Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize is an annual award, to be presented for the first time in 2013.
It is aimed at allowing emerging Caribbean writers to devote time to advancing or finishing a literary work, with support from an established writer as a mentor.
The Hollick Avron Prize will be offered annually—initially for the next three years and across three literary genres: fiction this year, non-fiction next year and poetry in 2015.
The Hollick Avron Prize has a total value of £10,000, with a cash award of £3,000.
Apart from the awards, attendees to the Bocas Lit Fest can also look forward to interacting with Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh, the best-selling author of Trainspotting, six other novels and four collections of short stories.
Trainspotting has now sold over one million copies worldwide and was also made into a movie. The novel will be on sale at the Bocas Lit Fest and the movie will be shown as part of the festival's film programme.
"Over 50 writers and literary performers—local, regional and international—will be involved in the festival. Some are already best sellers, others are at the beginning of their literary careers," Marina Salandy-Brown, the festival founder and director, said yesterday.
"Wondrous" Nigerian writer Teju Cole, Indian writer Pankaj Mishra and British writer Marina Warner, Commander of the British Empire, are among those scheduled to appear, Salandy-Brown said.
Express Publications Editor News/Features Deborah John will chair a panel discussion, while Express columnists Martin Daly, SC, and Sunity Maharaj will also participate in reading activities.
The National Library and the Old Fire Station will again become the Festival Village.
Hazel Hazzard Samuda, acting director of the Heritage Library, said the National Library and Information System Authority is proud to be housing the event.
During the entire month of April in the lead-up to the four-day festival there will be storytelling events every weekend at various locations around the country for children aged six to 15 years, said Danielle Delon, director of the KFC Bocas Children's Festival.
A special children's literary festival will be held on April 11 at City Hall in Port of Spain which will be attended by Mayor Louis Lee Sing and several national athletes, she said.
Nicole Ramdhanie, marketing manager of KFC, the sponsor for the children's festival, said storytelling events will be held at several of the fast food chain's branches nationwide.
The tile sponsor for the entire Bocas Lit Fest is the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago (NGC). Acting head of Community Relations at NGC Wynda Chandler said the State-owned company was putting its money where its mouth was to get rid of the image of the "struggling artist" and act as a catalyst for this country's literary talent.