Note to the reader

On the launch of the CRB, May 2004

Literature is a conversation — sometimes oral, sometimes written; vast, discontinuous, never-ending, self-perpetuating — between writers and other writers, between writers and their readers, between readers and other readers, in numerous permutations. But this conversation would be greatly limited without the intervention of publishers and editors, printers and booksellers. And one conversational aid that for too long has been missing from Caribbean literature is a serious periodical, distributed throughout the region and around the world, reviewing new books of Caribbean interest for an audience of avid, non-academic readers.

The original Caribbean Review of Books was published from 1991 to 1994 by the University of the West Indies Publishers’ Association (UWIPA) in Mona, Jamaica. Edited by Samuel B. Bandara, it was intended to be “the complete source for Caribbean book news.” When some UWIPA resources were absorbed into the newly founded UWI Press in 1993, and no external funding could be secured, the CRB quietly folded, but not without having suggested the need for a periodical of this nature.

Ten years later, the Caribbean publishing industry is larger and more sophisticated; more Caribbean books are being published than ever before, within the region and elsewhere; and we believe the need for The Caribbean Review of Books is both obvious and acute. The pilot issue you hold in your hands is testament to that belief. It is a belief shared by our contributors, all of whom have generously written their reviews without expecting payment; by our graphic designers and printers, who have waived or reduced their production costs; and by the publishers who have advertised in our pages. It is also shared by the distinguished writers, editors, and scholars who have agreed to join our editorial board (including both Samuel B. Bandara and Annie Paul of the original CRB, whose encouragement we are particularly grateful for). What we now hope to discover is whether this belief — that a periodical devoted to discussing Caribbean books and writing is a vital necessity — is shared by the common reader.

This pilot issue of the CRB is a sampler of sorts, featuring reviews of fourteen books, which is about half the number we plan to cover in each future issue. In time, we also hope to include original fiction and poetry, interviews with important Caribbean writers, and excerpts from forthcoming books — all with the intention of stimulating the conversation of Caribbean letters.

The books we plan to focus on are those most likely to interest ordinary readers — novels, collections of short stories and poems, biographies and autobiographies, books on current affairs, politics, history, culture, and the arts. We will review scholarly texts only when we feel they will interest a non-specialist audience. We hope to avoid books with no laudable qualities, unless they appear important or influential enough to demand that the absence of those qualities be pointed out. And, whatever our own opinions of books under review, we will place no constraint on the opinions of our reviewers, apart from those of accuracy, common civility, and the law.

The fact that you have received this pilot issue means that we consider you a potential CRB reader — and a potential subscriber. We believe you have a real interest in Caribbean books and writers, that you will enjoy and be edified by the writing in our pages, and that you share our conviction that a periodical like the CRB is necessary. So we invite you to make a simple, tangible gesture of support: take a subscription. Show this pilot issue to friends and colleagues who may share your interest. And share your comments with us by writing to, or to The Caribbean Review of Books, 6 Prospect Avenue, Maraval, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

Nicholas Laughlin, editor
Jeremy Taylor, publisher


The Caribbean Review of Books, May 2004