Do Not Pass Go
A quirky novel about family secrets and an unlikely love affair
by Beatriz Rivera
Published: September 30, 2006
Bind: Trade Paperback
Mateo Irigaray has come home to end his miserable life. A child prodigy, he was the pride of Hudson County. Born to a Colombian mother who died giving birth to him, he was raised by his older sister and surrounded by an assortment of unusual family members. Though young and inexperienced, it didn’t take his sister long to realize that Mateo was unusual. By the age of two, he could read and write. As a boy, he could learn a foreign language in a matter of weeks.
But now he’s depressed and ready to end it all.
Learning that the famous genius has returned, Melody More, a reporter with the local newspaper, agrees to try and convince him to give the paper an interview. But the only quote he’ll give her is, “All I want to do is die!” In spite of his anger and rudeness, she finds herself strangely attracted to the surly, slovenly man who begs her to leave and not interrupt his plans. As their relationship develops—Melody returns every day with an assortment of tempting food and wine—they realize that they share a complicated history of family secrets and betrayals.
From New Jersey to Havana to Switzerland, Rivera peppers this off-beat love story with a range of eccentric characters: Melody’s boss and former lover Xoan Xavier Contreras, known to the newspaper’s readers as Triple X for his triple x-rated exposés; her sister Odette, who went unnamed for an entire year because of her mother’s revulsion at her Thalidomide-deformed hands; and most importantly, Melody’s mother, who was obsessed with perfection and having a child prodigy of her very own.
Winner, 2007 International Latino Book Award for Best Romance Novel-English
Finalist, 2007 Paterson Fiction Prize
“Romance blooms amid family rivalries, office politics and scandalous rumors in Rivera’s third novel.”—Publisher’s Weekly
“Recurring characters, family relationships, and the Jersey City Hispanic barrio connect the stories, as does Rivera’s delicious sense of humor.”—Library Journal on African Passions and Other Stories
“A large cast of endearingly self-absorbed characters struggle along in Rivera’s sure-handed comedy as private fantasy, public aspiration and hard reality collide.”—Publishers Weekly on Midnight Sandwiches at the Mariposa Express
“An inventive, provocative oddity, this is a tantalizing work that draws readers into an engrossing twilight world.”—Publishers Weekly on Playing with Light
BEATRIZ RIVERA cleverly conveys the experience of the Latina woman attempting to reconcile her heritage and her existence within the greater construct of the American society in her short stories and novels. Rivera’s characters draw from their distinctive backgrounds to forge a bi-cultural image of themselves and their communities.
Cuban-born Beatriz Rivera grew up in Miami. She finished high school in Switzerland and then went on to study Philosophy in Paris where she received a Master’s degree. Her intention then was to remain in Europe and never to return to the U.S. She began writing her first novel in Paris, while teaching English and Spanish in area schools. Rivera spent ten years in Paris until one day she realized that, as a writer, she didn’t have much of an identity. If she wasn’t Parisian, and wasn’t an American in Paris, what was she?
After returning to the U.S., two of her short stories appeared in journals: the first, entitled “Paloma,” appeared in The Americas Review, and the other, “Life Insurance,” in Chiricú Journal. Three years later, her short story collection, African Passions and Other Stories (Arte Público Press, 1995), was published. Other short stories and poems appeared in reviews such as The Afro-Hispanic Review, and in anthologies such as Little Havana Blues (Arte Público Press, 1996) and Floricanto, Si! (Penguin Books, 1998).
Rivera’s three works eloquently demonstrate Rivera’s humor and spirit. Rivera followed her collection of short stories, African Passions, with her novel Midnight Sandwiches at the Mariposa Express (Arte Público Press, 1997). In 2000, Arte Público Press released her third work, a novel entitled Playing with Light. In all three books, Rivera creates a funny yet realistic portrait of the Cuban American female struggling to find her place in the American Dream. Her latest novel, Do Not Pass Go (Arte Público Press, 2006), is about an unlikely love affair between a former child prodigy and a newspaper reporter.
In 2002, Rivera completed her Ph.D. in Spanish Literature on Challenging the Canon: A History of Latina Literature Anthologies, 1980-2000 at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. She is an Assistant Professor at Penn State University and lives in Northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.