Biography and History

Antonio Benítez Rojo was born in Havana, Cuba, on March 14, 1931. He earned degrees in accounting, finance, and economics at the Universidad de la Habana and American University in 1958, and subsequently worked for Cuba's Ministry of Labor. In 1965, he went to work at the Ministry of Culture and won the Casa de las Américas award in 1967 for his short story collection Tute de reyes. Two years later followed the literary prize of the Unión de Escritores y Artistas Cubanos for El escudo de hojas secas. In 1975, Benítez Rojo became the director of the publishing department of Casa de las Américas. His last book published in Cuba was El mar de las lentejas.

In 1980, Benítez Rojo was given permission to attend a conference at the Sorbonne in Paris. While there, he defected, eventually traveling to the United States. He lectured and taught at a number of institutions before settling at Amherst College in 1983, where he became the Thomas B. Walton Memorial Professor of Romance Languages. His major works published in the United States include The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective (1996), A View From the Mangrove (1998), and Mujer en traje de batalla (2001). Benítez Rojo died on January 9, 2005.

Source: From the finding aid for C1099