Cuba’s Ministry of Culture, the Cuban Book Institute and Havana’s Social Science Publishers are inviting writers from around the world to submit unpublished essays for their ninth annual International Essay Contest, “Thinking against the Mainstream.” The goal is “to stimulate the circulation of dispersed, silenced and marginalized thought” and to “promote change, and resistance to the hegemonic power” of global ruling-class discourse and culture.
Entries may be written in English, Spanish, French or Portuguese. The contest features a first prize of 1,000 Euros, and winning essays will be published in Cuba.
According to contest officials, “The objective of the International Essay Competition is to recognize and disseminate critical thinking by dealing with the problems and challenges of the contemporary world from a broad anti-imperialist and fraternal viewpoint.”
Official contest rules are:
1. Authors from all countries may submit an unpublished essay in Spanish, Portuguese, English, or French, or a translation of the essay into any of these languages. The essay must not have obtained previous awards at other contests and must not be under option for publication elsewhere
2. Each essay should be between 20 and 40 pages long, each page consisting of up to 1,800 characters (30 lines of up to 60 characters each), for a maximum admissible length of 36,000 to 72,000 characters.
3. Only one essay may be submitted per entrant.
4. Essays must be submitted before Jan. 15, 2012, via email as an attached file in any PC document-compatible extension, preferably .rtf (.doc or open-format files, such as .odt, will also be accepted), to firstname.lastname@example.org. The email must contain the entrant’s full name, address, and a short curriculum vitae. The contest office will send the author confirmation that it has received his work and that it will be participating in the contest.
5. An international jury will award one prize, consisting of 1,000 Euros. As many honorable mentions as the jury deems fit will also be awarded, but these do not involve any monetary reward.
6. A book will be published consisting of the awarded essay together with a selection of submitted essays. The Cuban Institute of Books reserves the rights to a first publication of the essays, within a year from the submission deadline.
7. The jury’s decision is final and will be made public in February 2012 in Havana as part of the celebration of the International Book Fair of Cuba.
8. Participation in the contest implies acceptance of these rules.
Although current U.S. laws would appear to prohibit any American winner from accepting the cash prize, this contest offers progressive American writers a concrete and fully legal opportunity to make a personal gesture of solidarity with Cuba in opposition to the U.S. government’s illegal blockade.