Friedman, Robert. The Surrounding Sea. ISBN: 978-1495934742 $22.95
This is a publication of Floricanto Press. The year is 2000 in Puerto Rico. Stevie Pérez and his girlfriend, Laura Rosario, have joined a student protest against the U.S. Navy’s bombing exercises that have caused illness, environmental damages and death on the offshore island of Vieques. The Riot Squad is called onto the campus to quell the protest and in the ensuing violence, Laura is hit by a stray bullet and killed. A grieving Stevie vows to keep Laura’s memory alive by creating a scholarship in her name. He is frustrated in attempts to get help in the community and decides to become a drug mule to obtain the scholarship money. After a few lucrative trips, he is set up in a drug theft. His 20-year-old life in danger, Stevie is forced to flee as the drug gang pursues him from the Bronx to San Juan to the mountain towns of Puerto Rico. Along the way, Stevie learns hard truths about life, love and loss.
Robert Friedman’s powerful new novel grabs us on the very first page, and takes us on an exciting journey. The author lived for decades in Puerto Rico, where he worked as a journalist, and he demonstrates an intimate knowledge of the island and a deeply felt concern for its people. This is a gripping account of lost love, the temptations of the drug trade, the island’s complex relationship with the United States, the dual world of Puerto Ricans in the diaspora, and the struggle to survive in a difficult world. A truly memorable, touching story. —Kal Wagenheim, author, playwright and editor of The Puerto Ricans: A Documentary History
Robert Friedman weaves the different strains of Puerto Rican life during the last forty years into a compelling story of love, crime and colonial politics. Against the backdrop of the monumental effort to get the U.S. Navy out of Vieques island at the turn of this century, he explores, with context and meaning, the island’s changing social mores, its horrific drug problem and the political ideals that survive from the past and still inflame today’s youth. —Carmen Dolores Hernández, literary critic, author of Puerto Rican Voices in English
ROBERT FRIEDMAN was a reporter, columnist, city editor and Washington correspondent for the San Juan Star of Puerto Rico, as well as a special correspondent for the New York Daily News. He is the author of three previously published novels about Puerto Rico, Under a Dark Sun, Shadow of the Fathers and Caribbean Dreams.
Robert Friedman. Under A Dark Sun ISBN 978-1-888205-26-8. $17.95.
Crime, corruption and colonialism converge both satirically and tragically in Under a Dark Sun, set on the Caribbean island of Colón. Located on author Robert Friedman's literary map in the Lesser Antilles, the Hispanic island is not far from Puerto Rico. After Sara Vázquez returns to Colón, the island of her birth, hoping to find a place she can truly call home, she witnesses a murder. Sara is soon caught in the underside of life on the island. She turns to Nick Ortiz, who covers the police beat for the English-language newspaper. Nick, who has come to Colón to escape an earlier life of poverty, drugs, alcohol and a failed marriage, is drawn to Sara and her plight, and together they go up against the conspiracies and deceit that increasingly menace Sara's life. Interspersed with Sara's narrative is the story of Ted Iglesias, a young, ambitious politician who wants to lead his people out of their colonial morass into a better life. Impeding Ted's plans is El Cacique, the 92-year-old, 13-term governor of the island. Ted must decide just how far he will go to make his own ambitious dreams come true in this vivid, breathtaking novel of suspense. Reviews of previous novels: Shadow of the Fathers: "Friedman meticulously and faithfully recreates the Puerto Rican setting... In this book's case, a Puerto Rican theme translates into a North American novel that recognizes Puerto Rico's complex reality, both the internal struggles and those that come with colonial relations, and does so without the usual cliches." Carmen Dolores Hernández, El Nuevo Día
"Robert Friedman has managed to blend the mystery tale and a politically charged event to create a masterful literary novel that addresses contemporary issues of global human significance." Puerto Rican author Edgardo Vega Yunqué
Caribbean Dreams: A vastly entertaining work set on the fictitious Caribbean island of Colón. . . Humor and excitement blend superbly here." Booklist
"Fast-moving and witty, the story also paints a loving picture of the Caribbean island and raises political questions that demand answers." The (Denver) Rocky Mountain News.Robert Friedman was born and bred in the Bronx and lived in Puerto Rico for more than 20 years, working as a reporter, columnist and editor for the San Juan Star, as well as a special correspondent for the New York Daily News. He was Washington correspondent for the Star until the newspaper folded in 2008. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with his wife, Ginny. They have two grown daughters.
Robert Friedman. The Shadow of the Fathers. ISBN: 978-0-915745-99-9. $22.95.
Shadow of the Fathers Shadow of the Fathers turns a disturbing, possibly tragic historical event in Puerto Rico into a captivating work of fiction. Personal obsessions and public events collide as the novel’s characters grapple with lies, false identities, puzzling connections, U.S. wars and colonialism. A rich, suspenseful tale, the novel moves from the colorful life of San Juan to the snow-covered streets of New York, from the pastel heat of Miami to the fog-shrouded canals of Amsterdam. Pablo Camino, a highly regarded Puerto Rican artist, is haunted by his dead father’s past. Did Dr. Cornelius Rhoads, sent to Puerto Rico over four decades earlier to research a cure for pernicious anemia, really kill eight of his patients, as he claimed in a letter and later retracted? When Pablo kills an intruder in his home, he vows to finally discover the truth about the father he never knew -and about himself. The search into the past casts heavy shadows on individual lives in the present.
“Friedman meticulously and faithfully recreates the Puerto Rican setting… In this book’s case, a Puerto Rican theme translates into a North American novel that recognizes Puerto Rico’s complex reality, both the internal struggles and those that come with colonial relations, and does so without the usual cliches.” - Carmen Dolores Hernandez, El Nuevo Dia
“This is such an engrossing story that it’s easy to imagine it being made into an exciting and serious film.” - Mary J. Elkins, The Rocky Mountain News
“Robert Friedman’s vigorous novel tracks the psychological ripples that radiate from a single, ugly and mostly forgotten act of racism in Puerto Rican history; it shows, profoundly, that some things never go away, some wounds never heal.” - Steven Hunter, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, author of American Gunfight: The Plot to kill Harry Truman and the Shoot-out that Stopped it.