“His stories are dense with disaster and rich in description. The characters seem to exist only in extremis, dying in despondency and despair or in false glory.”
— Barbara Fisher, The New York Times Book Review

Antonio Benitez Rojo

The Estate of Antonio Benitez Rojo

Antonio Benítez-Rojo (March 14, 1931 – January 5, 2005) was a Cuban novelist, essayist and short-story writer. He was widely regarded as the most significant Cuban author of his generation.[1] His work has been translated into nine languages and collected in more than 50 anthologies.

Born in Havana, he lived in Cuba with his mother and stepfather from the age of seven. In the mid-1950s, backed by United Nations grants, Benítez-Rojo studied statistics at the United States Department of Labor and Commerce, and later studied in Mexico. Turning down offers to work in Chile or Geneva, he returned to Cuba in 1958 and became head of the Statistics Bureau at Cuba's Labor Ministry.

Benítez-Rojo began working at the Ministry of Culture in 1965 and won the Premio Casa de las Américas for the short story collection Tute de reyes in 1967. The following year, he won a writers' union prize of a trip to a socialist country; however, the government did not permit him to leave Cuba.

By 1975, Benítez-Rojo had been made head of Casa de las Américas, the publishing house run by the Cuban government. Sea of Lentils, the English translation of his novel El mar de las lentejas, was selected by The New York Times as one of the Notable Books of 1992.[2] In 1980, he was given permission to attend a conference at the Sorbonne in Paris. He traveled from Paris to Berlin, obtained a US tourist visa, and came to the United States, where he became a professor of Spanish at Amherst. The Archives and Special Collections at Amherst College holds a collection of his papers.

One of his most influential publications, La Isla que se Repite, was published in 1998 by Editorial Casiopea in Barcelona. He died in 2005.

 

Selected Books

image of Antonio Benitez Rojo

A View from the Mangrove


“Benitez-Rojo 'plays upon Spanish-American history rousingly, with an incessant hail of luminous, violent imagery and an unmistakable indignation...He writes wonderfully, with life, edge, and the density of a poem...With the semi-millennial anniversary of Columbus's landfall almost upon us, this novel makes us sorry that America was discovered.”
— John Updike, New Yorker

“His stories are dense with disaster and rich in description. The characters seem to exist only in extremis, dying in despondency and despair or in false glory.”
— Barbara Fisher, The New York Times Book Review

image of Antonio Benitez Rojo

Antonio Benitez Rojo