CRB version 2.5

On the relaunch of the CRB, May 2010

If the original Caribbean Review of Books — published from 1991 to 1994 in Jamaica — was CRB version 1.0, and the CRB as revived in 2004 in Trinidad was version 2.0, then perhaps this incarnation of the magazine before you now, dear reader, might be called version 2.5.

Because our new website, launched in time for our sixth anniversary, marks a shift in medium, but not in purpose, direction, or ambition. As in the twenty-one print editions we published between May 2004 and May 2009, the CRB will continue to provide serious (but not solemn) coverage of contemporary Caribbean books and writing via insightful, intelligent reviews and essays. Along with the critical writing for which (we hope) we’re best known, we’ll also continue to publish original poems and fiction, writers’ interviews, reflections, and memoirs, and occasional essays on Caribbean culture and current affairs more widely. In particular, the online CRB will pay closer attention to the Caribbean’s visual imagination, through portfolios of work by contemporary artists and exhibition reviews; and, every now and then, cast an eye on developments in music and film.

We regret that, after six years, it is no longer feasible to continue publishing a print edition of the CRB. (Our May 2009 issue was the last to appear on paper — at least for the time being.) But the economics of publishing in the Caribbean were against us from the start. After a gap of almost a year — a long pause for aestivation, a chance to reflect and rethink — we’re eager to explore the freedoms and flexibilities of a magazine unbound by print budgets and schedules.

The move from pages to pixels brings some changes to our publication schedule. Instead of appearing quarterly, the CRB will now publish six bimonthly issues per year, dated January, March, May, July, September, and November. The contents of each issue will be published gradually over each issue’s two-month duration, with new reviews and other pieces appearing every Monday.

When we revived the CRB in May 2004, it was with the conviction that “a periodical devoted to discussing Caribbean books and writing is a vital necessity.” It is necessary for writers, publishers, and readers, and practical matters of spreading the word about new books. But we also believe a magazine like the CRB plays a necessary role in instigating a wider conversation about literature and art and their relations with Caribbean society — which is also a debate about how to understand the Caribbean’s past, define its present, and imagine its future.

We know these are ambitious aspirations for a small magazine of modest means. But if the traditions of Caribbean creativity suggest a single imperative, it must be this: seize the means at your disposal, however modest, and make from them as much as you can. Then imagine making, doing, and being even more.

Nicholas Laughlin, editor


The Caribbean Review of Books, May 2010