St. Maarten literature expert wins prestigious Casa de las Américas Prize

Cuban author Emilio Jorge Rodríguez (center) celebrating news of his Casa prize with internationally acclaimed Cuban poet Nancy Morejón at the 58th edition of the literary prize-announcement ceremony, Havana (1.26.17). (Photo courtesy Casa de las Americas)


PHILIPSBURG – Cuban essayist, researcher Emilio Jorge Rodríguez has been awarded the coveted Casa de las Américas Prize for 2017 in Havana, Cuba, said his St. Maarten publisher House of Nehesi (HNP).

Rodríguez won in the category of “Studies on the Black Presence in Contemporary America and the Caribbean” for his book Una suave, tierna línea de montañas azules (A Gentle, Tender Line of Blue Mountains). The author was present at the 58th edition announcement ceremony of the Cuban award, which “is one of Latin America’s oldest and most prestigious literary prizes.” (

Rodríguez is acclaimed in his country for the excellence of his work, said journalist Marilyn Bobes ( Una suave, tierna línea de montañas azules, published in Cuba, is “a work about the communicating ties between Haitians and Cubans,” said Bobes.

Rodríguez is well known outside of Cuba as a leading independent scholar and one of the very few Caribbean literature experts that span the region’s various language zones, said HNP. “Jorge is one of four published experts on the developing literature of St. Martin,” said linguist Dr. Rhoda Arrindell.

“His critical review of Lasana Sekou’s writings has introduced the St. Maarten poet to new audiences through the English/Spanish book Pelican Heart / Corazón de Pelícano, and through Musa Desnuda, published in Cuba by Arte y Literatura,” said Arrindell.

Two of Rodriguez’s more recent HNP titles are the bilingual Haiti and Trans-Caribbean Literary Identity / Haití y la transcaribeñidad literaria and its French translation Haïti et l’identité littéraire trans-caribéenne.

For over 20 years Rodriguez has also been studying the literature of Aruba and Curaçao. Only a few days after receiving his Casa award, which literary critic Fabian Badejo called a “victory” for Rodriguez and the erudite quality of his writings, the author was moderating Casa’s “Literature of Curaçao Panel” at the Havana Book Fair on February 10. The panelists were Curacaolenean authors Diana Lebacs, Loekie Morales, and Leo Regals.

Rodriguez has lectured at Latin American, Caribbean, and US universities. Among his other titles are: Literatura caribeña; bojeo y cuaderno de bitácora and Acriollamiento y discurso escrit/oral caribeño. Rodriguez has contributed essays to numerous books, including América Latina: Palavra, Literatura e Cultura, A History of Literature in the Caribbean, Encyclopedia of Caribbean Literature, and the new Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography, edited by Franklin W. Knight and Harvard University’s Henry Louis Gates, Jr.