sx salon 20

Introduction and Table of Contents

• November 2015

The book review: within the academy, a much-maligned sample of criticism that occupies nebulous space at the bottom of the hierarchy of “acceptable” publications. Professors warn their graduate students that while their first publications may be reviews of academic books that appear in peer-reviewed journals, truly they should instead focus on articles and the dissertation that will function as a draft of their first book, particularly in a climate where securing employment is increasingly tenuous. Many of us, particularly in growing fields such as Caribbean studies, who continue to write book reviews while on the tenure track and indeed after tenure, do so understanding their critical function for our fields. Often it is the book review that serves to introduce a scholarly text to those members of an academic audience who may not read the article that appears in the journal of their scholarly organization (sacrilegious as that idea may be) or who may not attend every conference. Writing a book review is an overlooked opportunity to bring greater attention to texts that take on complex subject matter using sources with which we may or may not already be familiar; it provides a very real service to the larger community of readers, academic or not, by contextualizing a scholar’s analysis in relation to other studies in the field. The book reviewer therefore serves as a publicist for those texts that, aside from a small group of colleagues, friends, and family, may have gone relatively unnoticed by a larger audience.

For authors, the book review serves notice that at least one other person outside of the press has read a text that has taken years to complete; more seriously, it reveals that his or her work is being considered critically and demonstrates that the analysis joins the conversation of others in his or her discipline. The number of reviews of a given study may be used as criterion to determine the significance of one’s work by a scholar’s home institution, unofficially or not; again, the book review plays a critical function in the ecosystem that is the academy.

This special all-review issue of sx salon continues a conversation we first began four years ago (smallaxe.net/wordpress3/discussions/category/writer/the-book-review/). Here, we present reviews that examine works within different literary genres, including poetry, memoir, fiction, essay, and academic study; the works themselves address the anglophone, francophone, and hispanophone Caribbean, as we continue our efforts to present a more holistic vision of Caribbean literary studies. While we highlight works written by both men and women, the majority of the authors of the works considered in this issue, as well as the makeup of our reviewers themselves, are mostly women, an unintentional yet positive outcome that is representative of the significant material contributions women make not only within Caribbean society but also in the academy. Finally, several of these works consider the Caribbean diaspora, those populations that thrive outside of the geographic region despite economic realities that have existed for centuries and that many times have compelled migration. Though physically distant from the lands of their families, these men, women, and children are key to the Caribbean imaginary. We hope you enjoy this offering of reviews (table of contents below).

Vanessa K. Valdés

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Table of Contents

Introduction and Table of Contents—Vanessa K. Valdés

Poetry review
The Way Home, by Millicent A. A. Graham—Isabel Guzzardo Tamargo

Memoir reviews
Not for Everyday Use: A Memoir, by Elizabeth Nunez—Natasha Gordon-Chipembere
Che on My Mind, by Margaret Randall—Felicia Bishop Denaud

Fiction reviews
Sic Transit Wagon, and Other Stories, by Barbara Jenkins—Charlene Cambridge
Limbo: A Novel about Jamaica, by Esther Figueroa—Anton Nimblett
Ten Days in Jamaica, by Ifeona Fulani—A. J. Sidransky

Non-Fiction reviews
Among the Bloodpeople: Politics and Flesh, by Thomas Glave—Ronald Cummings
Troubling Nationhood in US Latina Literature: Explorations of Place and Belonging, by Maya Socolovsky—Carolina Villalba
Conflict Bodies: The Politics of Rape Representation in the Francophone Imaginary, by Régine Michelle Jean-Charles—Marissa Brown
Pathologies of Paradise: Caribbean Detours, by Supriya M. Nair—Michael Niblett
Ismith Khan: The Man and His Work, by Roydon Salick—Giselle Rampaul
African Diasporic Women’s Narratives: Politics of Resistance, Survival, and Citizenship, by Simone A. James Alexander—Ángela Castro

 

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