GREAT BAY—Emilio Jorge Rodríguez, a leading independent Cuban essayist and literary critic recently won the “Este Caribe Nuestro” Award 2014, at the University of Havana.
The “Este Caribe Nuestro” (This is Our Caribbean), is a lifetime achievement award given annually by the Chair of Caribbean Studies at the University of Havana. Dr. Antonio Romero, president of the Chair of Caribbean Studies, presented the award to Rodríguez on January 26, 2015.
“Rodríguez is a proficient trans-Caribbean literary expert. His studies and comparisons of authors and literary cultures from all of the region’s major language zones, including the Kweyol languages, are essential to our understanding of what he has called, ‘the expansion of cultures beyond national administrative boundaries’,” said HNP publisher Lasana M. Sekou.
The “Este Caribe Nuestro” is awarded to personalities such as scholars and artists or institutions, such as cultural organizations, that have made outstanding contributions to the Caribbean region during their lifetime. Rodríguez is 67.
House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP) has published three books by Rodríguez on Haitian and St. Martin literatures. He’s one of four scholars who can be called experts on the growing literature of St. Martin, said Sekou. Major publishers such as Editorial Arte y Literatura have published Rodríguez in Cuba. He is a University of Havana graduate with degrees in Spanish and Latin American Literature.
“Rodríguez is not so much a literary critic as a literary historian,” wrote New York University professor Michael Dash in a critical review of Rodríguez’s Haiti and Trans-Caribbean Literary Identity / Haiti y la transcaribenidad literaria (2011). The review appeared in the New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids (2013).
What is generally well agreed on is the essential skills of Rodríguez as a meticulous researcher. In fact, Rodríguez holds the prestigious Researcher degree from the Cuban Academy of Sciences. He has lectured at universities, research institutes, and conferences in Cuba, the USA, Mexico, Venezuela, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Martin, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Barbados, and Germany, said Sekou.
Rodriguez was a researcher at Casa de las Américas’ Literary Research Center and the Center of Caribbean Studies, from 1972 to 2000. He directed the Center of Caribbean Studies from 1994 to 1998, where he founded and edited the journal Anales del Caribe between 1981 and 2000.
Rodriguez, who the author Fabian Adekunle Badejo once called an “erudite scholar,” has written articles and essays that have appeared in Casa de las Américas, Bim, Caribbean Quarterly, Cuadernos Americanos, Revue Internationale de Litterature Comparé, Del Caribe, Gaceta de Cuba, Temas, and Universidad de La Habana.
Awards and honors include the “Razón de Ser” from the Centro Alejo Carpentier, a CUNY Caribbean Fellowship, a Fundación Nicolás Guillén Fellowship, and the Latin American and Caribbean Third Millennium Essay Award. He was selected for the Visiting Scholars’ Program of the Africana Studies and Research Center of Cornell University, according to his HNP profile.
Rodriguez has served as a member of the board of examiners for Scientific Degrees at the Cuban Literature and Linguistic Institute and was an awards juror for Casa de las Américas, the National Culture Award COLCULTURA, the International Orality Contest ORCALC-UNESCO, and the Grand Prix Littéraire Caribéen. He’s a member of the Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba (UNEAC).
His memberships to organizations extend outside of Cuba, to the editorial board of Revista Mexicana del Caribe, and the Academic Committee of the Biblioteca del Caribe Series of Puerto Rico.
Books authored by Rodríguez include Literatura caribeña; bojeo y cuaderno de bitácora (1989); Religiones afroamericanas (coordinator, 1996); Acriollamiento y discurso escrit/oral caribeño (2001), and the anthologies of Efraín Huerta, Pedro Juan Soto, Cuentos para ahuyentar el turismo: 16 autores puertorriqueños, and the bilingual volume Pelican Heart: An Anthology of Poems by Lasana M. Sekou (2010). His El Caribe literario, Trazados de convivencia was published in Havana in 2011and Haïti et l’identité littéraire trans-caribéenne was published in St. Martin in 2013.
Rodríguez has also contributed to the following books: Panorama histórico-literario de nuestra América (1982), América Latina: Palavra, Literatura e Cultura (1995), Diccionario Enciclopédico de las Letras de América Latina (1996), Defining New Idioms and Alternative Forms of Expression (1996), A History of Literature in the Caribbean (1997), Spain’s 1898 Crisis (2000), A Pepper-Pot of Cultures; Aspects of Creolization in the Caribbean (2003), La oralidad: ¿ciencia o sabiduría popular? (2004), and the Encyclopedia of Caribbean Literature (2006).
Books authored by Emilio Jorge Rodríguez and published in St. Martin by HNP are available at Van Dorp, Arnia’s, and Jasor’s bookstores, Amazon.com, bookishplaza.com, and SPDbooks.org.