Although I am delighted to be able to present it, I can take very little credit for the all-interviews discussion section in this issue; it assembled itself by serendipity in my inbox as contributor after contributor offered the lively, insightful, and generous exchanges they had had with Caribbean writers and scholars. For me the dialogic quality of an interview is its own pleasure: the way questions and answers can open up paths that perhaps neither party to the conversation could have anticipated in advance. Among the myriad pleasures of the five interviews collected here, I hope you will appreciate, as I do, the many ways these conversations expand and add texture to the archives of Caribbean cultural and intellectual production. I am grateful to all the interlocutors for trusting sx salon with these vibrant exchanges.
Please join me in reading along as Stephen Narain and Lisa Allen-Agostini talk about Allen-Agostini’s recent novel, The Bread the Devil Knead, which was shortlisted for the 2022 Women’s Prize for Fiction in the UK. Movingly introduced by Narain, the interview takes up with compassion and honesty the theme of childhood sexual abuse that is at the novel’s core. The topic of Caribbean science fiction and its capacities for addressing contemporary ecological crises runs through the two interviews that follow: D. A. Vivian’s interview with Stephanie Saulter, and Mollie Schofield’s interview with Alexandra Pagán Vélez. Vivian and Saulter discuss literary influences, tropes, and how Saulter uses her writing to critique ideologies and structures that marginalize, while Schofield and Pagán Vélez talk about the latter’s self-conception within Puerto Rican and Caribbean histories and communities, and the affordances of the gothic. Nalini Mohabir and Ronald Cummings’s interview with economist Kari Polanyi Levitt covers considerable scope, including Levitt’s early life and the influences that led to her extensive body of work on the Caribbean, her involvement with the New World Group, and her collaborations with such figures as Lloyd Best, George Beckford, and Norman Girvan. Beautifully rounding out the special section is a conversation between Vladimir Lucien and Lorna Goodison that, framed through the concept of “negative growth,” muses on our current troubling times and how writing finds a way—and is a way—through tribulation.
Our robust book reviews section features two reviews of recent Caribbean fiction: Suzanne Scafe on Hazel Campbell’s short-story collection Jamaica on My Mind, and Elaine Savory on Lawrence Scott’s novel Dangerous Freedom. The section then turns to scholarship, with Jovanté Anderson’s review of Jovan Scott Lewis’s Scammer’s Yard: The Crime of Black Repair in Jamaica; Ricardo M. Coloma on Johanna Fernández’s The Young Lords: A Radical History; and Jessica Díaz Rodríguez on Krystal Nandini Ghisyawan’s Erotic Cartographies: Decolonization and the Queer Caribbean Imagination. In our creative section we offer poems by Éric Morales-Franceschini, an excerpt from Conor Bracken’s soon-to-be-published translation of a collection by Jean D’Amérique, and short fiction by Sharon Leach.
I end here, as I too often must, on a sorrowful note: marking the passing of George Lamming (1927–2022), a Caribbean literary, intellectual, and political giant. In their interview, Mohabir, Cummings, and Levitt briefly discuss Lamming’s involvement with the New World Group: a small and serendipitous window into Lamming’s extensive and hugely influential career. The internet is now awash in obituaries and tributes, and we look forward to the conferences, special issues, and anthologies that will surely follow; Lamming’s work and its legacies we will have always with us. Yet still, we have lost the man, and so we pause to mourn and to offer our condolences to those closest to him.
Rachel L. Mordecai
“Rooted in Time and Place”—Suzanne Scafe
Review of Hazel Campbell, Jamaica on My Mind (Leeds: Peepal Tree, 2019)
“Imagining Elizabeth d’Aviniere”—Elaine Savory
Review of Lawrence Scott, Dangerous Freedom (London: Papillote, 2020)
“Black Repair and Questions of Sovereignty”—Jovanté Anderson
Review of Jovan Scott Lewis, Scammer’s Yard: The Crime of Black Repair in Jamaica (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2020)
“Insurgent Archives”—Ricardo M. Coloma
Review of Johanna Fernández, The Young Lords: A Radical History (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2020)
“Decolonial Mapping, Same-Sex-Loving Women, and Erotic Autonomy”—Jessica Díaz Rodríguez
Review of Krystal Nandini Ghisyawan, Erotic Cartographies: Decolonization and the Queer Caribbean Imagination (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2022)
“Swallowing the Sky: An interview with Lisa Allen-Agostini”—Stephen Narain
“The Afterlives of Caribbean Regionalism: An Interview with Kari Polanyi Levitt”—Nalini Mohabir and Ronald Cummings
“The Path of Negative Growth”—A conversation between Vladimir Lucien and Lorna Goodison
Poetry & Prose
Poems—Jean D’Amérique, translated by Conor Bracken
“Desire”—fiction by Sharon Leach