‘Pigs of Paradise’ wins international award
he bestselling hardcover on The Bahamas’ beloved swimming pigs has been selected by an international body as one of the best books of the year.
Following its release in October 2018, “Pigs of Paradise” has found itself in bookstores and retail shops all across the United States, Canada and The Bahamas. It has been covered by media outlets the likes of CNN and USA Today. And a full-length feature film, based on the book, has begun an international tour at film festivals and private parties.
But for author T. R. Todd, winning a bronze medal from the Independent Book Publishing Awards is the greatest feeling yet.
“When you write books, you do it because you love it. You do it because you are passionate about telling stories. You just hope that others find value in it as well,” said Todd, who has been published twice before “Pigs of Paradise”, and will release his second novel later this year.
“To receive such an award means the world to me. The story of these swimming pigs continues to capture the world’s attention. The Bahamas is like a second home to me, so I am just so happy that people are enjoying this story and learning more about the most beautiful place on Earth.”
Every year, the Independent Book Publishing Awards receives thousands of submissions from the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Europe. Launched as the first unaffiliated awards program, open exclusively to independent, university and self-published titles, the awards are presented each spring at a gala ceremony during the Book Expo America convention in New York City.
For its part, “Pigs of Paradise” was awarded the bronze medal in the Animals category.
Winners of the coveted awards are featured in articles and press releases that are distributed to more than 2,000 media outlets. Most importantly, the book is given an award seal to display on the front cover.
“This award is really the culmination of so much hard work from so many different people,” added Todd, who is also a former Business Editor of The Nassau Guardian.
“So many friends and colleagues have been part of this swimming pig adventure along the way. I share this award with Diane Phillips, who wrote the foreword and has always been a wonderful friend. Peter Nicholson, the largest owner at Grand Isle Resort in Exuma, who shared my vision for the swimming pigs as an international marketing campaign. And of course the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, which has been an outstanding partner in bringing this phenomenon to the world. There are many others – and they know who they are.”
In 162 pages, Todd offers an amusing yet eloquent account on the origins of the swimming pigs, while also sprinkling in details on Exuma’s unique history. He details how, in late 2013, Todd and Nicholson decided to create the first documentary film on pigs, which had previously been unknown to the wider world. Todd and Nicholson enlisted Bahamian director Charlie Smith to film “When Pigs Swim”, and more recently the full-length film “Pigs of Paradise”.
The result was extraordinary: the swimming pigs of Exuma exploded onto the scene, appearing in television shows, newspapers, magazines and millions of social media posts. Today, these animals are among the most recognizable on the planet, with attractions now spread across several islands in The Bahamas and bringing in millions in tourism revenue.
In addition to providing this history, Todd thoughtfully broadens the topic to consider the pig’s relationship with mankind in society, religion, literature and popular culture. In the end, the book explores what this attraction can teach us about developing empathy towards marginalized and heavily farmed animals in the 21st century, such as the pig.
The message has struck a chord. Todd said that he has fielded interviews from magazines as far afield as Hong Kong.
The next step for Todd and Smith is the film and book signing circuit.
Earlier this month, the swimming pigs were front and center when a film on the global phenomenon screened in Fort Lauderdale at the Savor Cinema to a sold-out crowd.
Fort Lauderdale’s finest packed the theatre for the exclusive U.S. Premiere, featuring Pigtini-themed cocktails, rum tastings, decadent appetizers and pink cupcake towers. Guests also engaged in an intimate Q&A with the both Todd and Smith after the screening.
Both luxurious and light-hearted, the evening’s tone was set early on when Petunia the Pig walked the red carpet with local businessman and philanthropist Steve Savor.
“Such a fabulous event,” said Beatriz Miniaci, who was one of around 200 people at the premiere.
“I learned so much about Exuma from the movie. It was very well done.”
Gregory von Hausch, president and CEO of the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival (FLIFF), called the screening a “huge success”. The film is also expected to screen at the actual festival this coming November.
More than 12 local and Bahamian sponsors supported the event, including Grand Isle Resort, Peace & Plenty, Staniel Cay Yacht Club and Makers Air. The event was also hosted and supported by the Bahamas Consul General of Miami and the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.
“I think the world needs more swimming pigs,” Todd said.
“Whimsical and fun, they spark the imagination. It reminds us not to take the world so seriously, and that sometimes, extraordinary things happen that we never expected. I can’t wait to see what comes next.”