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International Latino Book Award - Best Historical Novel; Nautilus Book Award for Fiction. Nominated for the following: National Book Award; the National Book Critics Circle Award; the PEN Open Book Award; the PEN/Hemingway Book Award for Debut Novels


Quixote for our times, Until We're Fish is an intimate exploration into the souls of people willing to sacrifice everything to be free.


“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, US Presidential Inaugural Poet, author of How to Love a Country
“In her soulful debut novel, Susannah R. Drissi offers a meditation on what it means to be Cuban, living between unfulfilled revolutionary ideals, lost illusions of love, and the sea, always the sea.” —Ruth Behar, Pura Belpré Award-winning author of Lucky Broken Girl and Letters from Cuba
“Stunning. As full of poetry and verve as a drop of water, Until We're Fish is an unforgettable portrait of a man trapped by his obsessions. A remarkable debut by a writer preened and primed by the helter-skelter world of the 1959 Cuban Revolution. Susannah R. Drissi is a master prose stylist, and this novel is a masterpiece.” —Emilio Bejel, The Write Way Home: A Cuban-American Story

“Riveting... Beautifully written and thought provoking...  about unconditional love, misfortunes, grief, disillusionment, and survival. A fascinating tale of ‘fish in a barrel’ trying to find a way out.” —Asela Laguna, Professor Emerita of Women and  Gender Studies, Rutgers University, Goodreads
“A deeply immersive experience. A novel of unrelenting loss and inescapable despair, yet punctuated with humor and philosophical observations, sometimes cultural, sometimes whimsical. The geography  and the characters are vivid, genuine, and transformative; and mundane events are so evocative that a smile of recognition was never far from my lips. So captivating, you won't put it down.” —ADRIANA BOSCH, Emmy Award-winning director of PBS American Experience: Fidel Castro


“Until We're Fish, Susannah Rodríguez Drissi's debut novel, is a riveting retelling of the Cuban ethos from 1959 until the late nineties. Beautifully written and thought-provoking, it is about unconditional love, misfortunes, grief, disillusionment and survival chronicled through the eyes and experiences of two ordinary characters, childhood sweethearts Elio and Maria. 

Set in Bauta, a small rural town home to a successful textile company that employs most of the local people, the author succeeds in vividly seizing the region's landscape, aromas, manners, colloquial speech modes as well as the social, labor and domestic minutiae while tracing the journeys of Elio and Maria. 

Elio, a good nature daydreaming and unselfish fellow, and avid reader of Don Quixote, as a person is marked by his dad's abandonment prior to 1959, and his mother's suicide when he was eighteen years old. In a world of lacking he focuses instead in his undeniably true-hearted love for Maria, his unambiguous dream to possess a bicycle and his hardworking efforts to subsist. Maria, an Emma Bovary phone operator, aspired always to live the lifestyles envisioned browsing her favorite Sears' catalogues. After two decades of impoverished unimaginative married life, she abandons Elio. With friends she sails in a Buick converted into a boat to Florida, hoping someday to make it to Chicago, in her imagination, Sears destination of happiness.


At another level, this text, very well documented and filled with a myriad of characters and subplots, aptly maps out the sad itinerary and soul of common people robbed of their dreams and hopes during different moments under the Cuban revolution (early years, the Mariel boat lift and the Special Period). A fascinating tale of "fish in a barrel" trying to find a way out.”  —Asela R. Laguna, Goodreads

Until We're Fish


  • ISBN





    Propertius Press


    Susannah R. Drissi (author); Lance Buckley (cover design); Raven van den Bosch (interior design)

  • # OF PAGES





    None. All Rights Available


    Susannah Rodríguez Drissi,

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