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‘Until We’re Fish’ Receives 2020 Nautilus Book Award

An international book prize, Nautilus Awards honor “Better Books for a Better World,” and the core mission of the Nautilus Awards is to celebrate and honor books that support positive social change, social justice, conscious living and spiritual growth – “books that inspire and connect our lives as individuals and global citizens” – “books that transcend barriers of culture, gender, and class.” 
Other Nautilus Award winners include Barbara Kingsolver, Barbara Brown Taylor, Anne Lamott, Louise Erdrich, Desmond Tutu and Thich Nhat Hanh, Eckhart Tolle, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Andrew Weil, Judy Collins, and Malala Yousafzai.
Winners will officially be announced in May.

“Historically vibrant and sadly exquisite, Until We’re Fish renders a poetic and cinematic view of Cuba through the lens of loves—familial love, romantic love, patriotic love—and their complex intersections, all beautifully and uniquely told through this compelling story centered on lives that make history come alive.”

—RICHARD BLANCO, Presidential Inaugural Poet, author of How to Love a Country

Stunning and elegiac, Susannah Rodríguez Drissi’s debut novel Until We’re Fish juxtaposes vivid landscapes, brilliant, playful meditations on life, and penetrating insights into the human heart, to richly bring to life the story of rapscallion dreamer Elio, a Cuban teen whose unbridled confidence is severely tested after a near-fatal shark attack.

Elio longs for freedom from the dreary home he shares with his mother. He spends his days and nights fantasizing about an American bike and Maria, his vivacious next-door neighbor. Two obstacles stand in his way: the 1959 Cuban Revolution and Maria’s dream of moving to Chicago. Yet Elio is steadfast in believing that somehow, some way he will get both the girl and the Schwinn. When an injury leaves him terrified of the sea, he’s faced with an impossible choice: to overcome his fear and do whatever it takes to realize his vision, or to stay safe, and risk losing everything he’s been living for. 

An unforgettable coming-of-age story, Until Were Fish blends the romance, violence, mood, and ethos of the Cuban Revolution with a young man’s hopeless and heroic first love. With the truth of experience and the lyricism of poetry, Rodríguez Drissi constructs an exquisite, gossamer tale of revolution and hearts set adrift. A Don Quixote for our times, Until Were Fish is an intimate exploration into the souls of people willing to sacrifice everything to be free.

“For ten years, the whole world came and went, but Cubans stayed. Tied down, anchored to the bottom of the sea, indefinitely. Profoundly, utterly surrounded by water, their lot was to rise and fall, and ultimately, to stay in place.  A great flood might drown the town, whole cities, the entire island, and they’d remain, weighed down by some invisible force, unkind, unaffected, and unyielding.”   Excerpt, Until We’re Fish


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A delightfully choreographed, and ultimately scintillating hoodwink, this extraordinary collection of poetry constitutes a cross-linguistic poetic event in which the correspondence between Romance languages is so close as to approach the condition of a new vernacular; and where the very issue of movement between languages is somehow central, and sound and rhythm are the fundamental characteristics of poetry. Written at the intersection of several romance languages, and most closely related to Spanish and Italian, the collection wears its Latinity on its sleeve; in other words, this is a collection fueled by the many convergences and divergences possible between Latin and its vernaculars, ultimately proposing that true Latinity is always first and foremost expressed through language. And, sometimes, also humor.

Esta extraordinaria colección de poemas, deliciosamente coreografiados y en última instancia triunfantes, constituye un evento poético interlingüístico en el que la correspondencia entre las lenguas romances es tan cercana como para abordar la condición de un nuevo idioma vernáculo; y donde el tema mismo del movimiento entre idiomas es de alguna manera central, y el sonido y el ritmo son las características fundamentales de la poesía. Escrita en la intersección de varias lenguas romances, y más relacionada con el español e italiano, la colección lleva su latinidad a flor de piel; en otras palabras, esta es una colección alimentada por las muchas convergencias y divergencias posibles entre el latín y sus lenguas vernáculas, que en última instancia proponen que la verdadera latinidad siempre se expresa primero y principalmente a través del lenguaje. Y, a veces, también a través del humor.

Questa straordinaria collezione di poesie, deliziosamente coreografata e in ultima analisi trionfante, costituisce un evento poetico interlinguistico in cui la corrispondenza tra le lingue romanze è così vicina da avvicinarsi alla condizione di un nuovo volgare; e dove la questione stessa del movimento tra le lingue è in qualche modo centrale, e il suono e il ritmo sono le caratteristiche fondamentali della poesia. Scritto all’incrocio di diverse lingue romanze, e più strettamente imparentato allo spagnolo e all’italiano, la collezione indossa la sua latinità sulla manica; in altre parole, questa è una collezione alimentata dalle molte convergenze e divergenze possibili tra il latino e i suoi vernacolari, in definitiva proponendo che la vera latinità sia sempre espressa innanzitutto attraverso il linguaggio. E, a volte, anche umorismo.

Reviews of The Latin Poet’s Guide to the Cosmos

“Il poeta latino a la longui se aferra / cual vagabondo a la galaxia.” —The Latin Poet’s Guide to the Cosmos

“Nothing prepares the reader for this journey of poetic exploration. Not even the comparable act of attempting to read a text in some real language we’re far from mastering comes close to this extraordinary moment of estrangement: when experiencing a real language we have yet to understand, we know that we have merely managed to postpone a possible future encounter; after all, real language exists and is understandable — even if not now and not by us.”

Excerpted from “Here Begins the Unexplored: On The Latin Poet’s Guide to the Cosmos” by Verónica García Moreno, published 7/11/19 in The Los Angeles Review of Books

“The Latin Poet’s Guide to the Cosmos conveys the sense that everyone engages in a similar approach to language. It prompts the reader to think about how others would read the work, and how everyone processes language in similar ways. To read the collection is to float in the sound of it, in the rhythm of it.” 

—Norma Mendoza-Dayton, Cultural anthropologist and Linguist, Homegirls: Language and Cultural Practice among Latina Youth Gangs. Excerpted from the Daily Bruin. Article written by Deirdre Klena and published 6/7/19.  

“[…] en este poemario se encuentra un pequeño homenaje al “filiflama alabe cundre” de Mariano Brull. Y una vez establecido el peso de la tradición, la autora se sacude el recuerdo del maestro cubano, y nos seduce con un humor propio de una greguería, porque todo es lúdico. También, como Brull, Drissi está a caballo entre varios países (el paisaje mediterráneo, cubano, californiano, magrebí) como un animal fronterizo y verboso que habla todas las lenguas y ninguna y acerca todos estos paisajes al lector, desplegando los mapas lingüísticos, volviendo líquidas las fronteras, desvaneciendo los muros, tendiendo puentes y estirando la lengua hacia la última vanguardia”.

Excerpted from “Líquidas fronteras y campo inexplorado” by Verónica García Moreno, published 10/4/19 in Diario de Cuba (Madrid, Spain). 



Rey y Atenea revolves around the definition of identity against the other, and the balance of power around that very difference. And, in what social apparatus are difference, intimacy, secrets, and the organization of space more obvious than in the traditional couple?” —Verónica García Moreno, All About the Stage  

Winner of the 2019 People’s Choice Award and Finalist for the 2019 Short+Sweet NBC Universal Talent Infusion Programs Award. Rey y Atenea is an official selection of the 2019 Short+Sweet Hollywood Festival in Hollywood, California (with Nick Hardcastle, Festival Director; Jackie Diamond, Program Director – Latino). Its world premiere takes place at the Lee Strasberg Film & Theatre Institute, Marilyn Monroe Theatre, on October 12, 2019. The director is Susannah Rodríguez Drissi; set, costume, and lighting design are by Susannah Rodríguez Drissi; the sound designer is Irena Costello, and the production stage manager is Lydia Kelley. The cast is as follows: Magdalena Edwards (Atenea), JD Mata (Rey). On October 25th, 2019, Juan Carlos Flores takes over the role of Rey. The 2019 Short+Sweet Hollywood Festival is sponsored by NBC.

This is a special bilingual edition.

To purchase, please contact the author.

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