In the wake of President Obama's announcement that the U.S. will begin to "normalize" relations with Cuba, Restless Books, a Brooklyn-based publisher specializing in international literature, is promoting its titles by Cuban writers.
Published in September, A Planet for Rent by Yoss (aka José Miguel Sánchez Gómez), is the English debut of, per Restless Books, "the most successful and controversial Cuban Science Fiction writer of all time." The title is available in both paperback and e-book (the Spanish edition of A Planet for Rent was previously published in Spain in 2001). In November, Restless Books published another translation, Agustín de Rojas's A Legend of the Future.
Restless Books publisher, Ilan Stavans, a professor at Amherst, has traveled to Cuba for academic purposes several times (he documented his exploration of the country's science fiction scene for Boing Boing). While there, he met with Yoss, who sold him the rights to A Planet for Rent, as well as Super Extra Grande, a new work slated for publication in April 2016.
Yoss connected Restless Books with the widow of Agustín de Rojas, whom Restless Books calls the "patron saint" of Cuban science fiction. The publisher picked up rights to a trilogy including titles A Legend of the Future, published in November; The Year 200, to be released November 2015; and Spiral, out May 2016. The works were published in Cuba in the '80s and early '90s, but have long since been out of print.
"We're very excited to bring such unique books from Cuba to English-language readers, especially at this momentous time," said executive editor Joshua Ellison. "Besides being great science fiction, they are also special windows into Cuban society. For anyone looking to learn more about the island."
"Pursuing these books and figuring out how to publish them legally in the U.S. has been a crash course in the surreal, byzantine world of U.S.-Cuba relations," continued Ellison, adding that the press communicated several times with the U.S. State Department for clarifications on embargo-related laws as it prepared for publication. "Hopefully this new relationship will help create conditions for more culture and ideas to flow between the two countries."