sx salon 44

October 2023

La Terre Renversée: New Perspectives on Francophone Caribbean Literature

On so many fronts, we seem to be in a moment in which the past is urgently informing the present. Long-standing conflicts have exploded with horrifying effects, and to respond ethically and effectively we are called on to understand complex, decades-long histories. Political movements in multiple countries seem bent on reinvigorating discourses and reinstating policies based on ideologies that had seemed firmly placed in the rearview of history (insofar as such a thing exists). Even our collective attempts to address the escalating climate crisis will founder if they do not account for the unequal geopolitical, economic, and environmental arrangements that have brought us to this pass in which, as the saying goes, we all face the same storm but we are not in the same boat. To engage our now, we must practice a bidirectional approach to time and history, continuously considering where we have been to make good choices about how and where to go next.

This bilingual issue of sx salon instantiates such a bidirectional temporality in relation to the literatures and cultures of the francophone Caribbean, exploring new vistas and celebrating emerging writers while also taking new passes over apparently familiar ground. As our round-robin reviews section emphasizes, the lively scholarly conversation on the francophone Caribbean continues apace. In this section, four scholars—Annette K. Joseph-Gabriel, Kaiama L. Glover, Jacqueline Couti, and Anny-Dominique Curtius—review each other’s recent monographs that, taken together, present an array of admirably careful yet innovative work on texts and figures both familiar and heretofore obscured: from Suzanne Césaire to Sully Lara, Tituba to Eugénie Éboué-Tell.

Our discussion section also looks back while looking forward. It opens with Nathan Dize’s essay on J. Michael Dash as “translator-critic,” which performs a close analysis of Dash’s translational strategy in The Ripening, his 1985 re-translation of Édouard Glissant’s 1958 novel La lézarde. Dize argues that in the face of an existing English translation (by Frances Frenaye, published in 1959) that Glissant himself found unsatisfactory, Dash opts for lexical choices that “accentuat[e] the Caribbean cultural context of Glissant’s language . . . [and] the importance of deeply rooted, Caribbean notions of humanism and freedom.” The section moves on with Corine Labridy’s essay on what she labels an “Afrofuturist turn in the French Antilles.” Labridy begins with a quick survey of Maryse Condé’s speculative fiction and a discussion of créolité as literary and intellectual heritage before addressing the speculative work being produced by a younger generation of writers such as Nadia Chonville, Michael Roch, and Christophe Gros-Dubois, who, Labridy contends, “turn their gazes toward new worlds and new temporalities and . . . speculate wildly from a place of self-possession.” The discussion section is wonderfully rounded out by a conversation between Sara Florian and the Martinican poet and novelist Nicole Cage-Florentiny, presented here in French and accompanied by an abstract in English. The two discuss the interconnections between Cage-Florentiny’s personal, professional, and creative lives, as well as the influence of other Caribbean and African diaspora writers on her work.

Finally, in our Poetry & Prose section, we present translations of one established and one emerging writer: an excerpt from Daniel Maximin’s novel L’ile et une nuit (1995), translated by Jason Frydman (The Island and a Night is forthcoming), and Corine Labridy’s translation of Christophe Gros-Dubois’ short story “Barbecue, fille de la mangrove—le cycle des luttes,” which appeared in April 2023. The poetry of Stéphane Martelly, presented in French, completes the section and the issue.

I am more than usually indebted to my co-conspirators on the sx salon editorial team: Ronald Cummings and Danielle Legros-Georges. They are ever brilliant, innovative, and assiduous in pursuing our collective goal to bring you the best of new Caribbean literature and literary discussion, but this issue in particular has been a deeply collaborative endeavor, and I am struck once again by how lucky I am to work alongside them. I am also very happy to welcome two new members to our team: editorial assistants Grayson Chong and Linzey Corridon.

As this issue was in the very last stages of production, we received the sad news of the passing of Professor Edward Baugh, distinguished poet, scholar, and teacher of Caribbean literature. Our condolences go out to his family and friends. Like so many others, I was Prof Baugh's student at UWI Mona and can testify to the rigorous and invigorating intellectual climate he created in his classes. Beyond the classroom, his contributions to the Caribbean literary sphere have been immeasurable: his scholarship meticulous and expansive, his poetry equally so and more. For all the "words as tenacious as mules / to bear us, sure-footed / up the mountain of night" ("Elemental"), we thank you, Prof. Rest well.

Enjoy, take care, and let us know what you think:

Rachel L. Mordecai

Table of Contents


On Disorderly Women Who Love Themselves”—Annette K. Joseph-Gabriel
Review of Kaiama L. Glover, A Regarded Self: Caribbean Womanhood and the Ethics of Disorderly Being (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2020)

Revisiting Antillean Literary History”—Kaiama L. Glover  
Review of Jacqueline Couti, Sex, Sea, and Self: Sexuality and Nationalism in French Caribbean Discourses, 1924–1948 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2021)

Reframing Suzanne Césaire and Her Legacy”—Jacqueline Couti
Review of Anny-Dominique Curtius, Suzanne Césaire: Archéologie littéraire et artistique d’ une mémoire empêchée (Paris: Karthala, 2020)

Unearthing Afro-diasporic Feminist Solidarities and Decolonial Citizenship”—Anny-Dominique Curtius
Review of Annette K. Joseph-Gabriel, Reimagining Liberation: How Black Women Transformed Citizenship in the French Empire (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2020)


J. Michael Dash, Translator-Critic of the Caribbean”—Nathan Dize

Permission to Speculate Wildly: An Afrofuturist Turn in the French Antilles”—Corine Labridy 

Espérance et sororité dans l’écriture de Nicole Cage-Florentiny: ‘Le monde a besoin de ce regard, de ce souffle, de cette colère, de cet amour des femmes’”—Sara Florian 

Poetry & Prose

Fiction by Daniel Maximin—translated by Jason Frydman

Poetry—Stéphane Martelly

Fiction by Christophe Gros-Dubois—translated by Corine Labridy