Oswald Rivera


“To be alive is to be committed.”  – Oswald Rivera

Oswald Rivera has always been committed to his passion for life through his writing.  He has penned four books, two on food and cooking and two novels.

Rivera learned to cook watching his mother prepare family meals and the desire to create his own culinary treasures never left him.

Since 1996, he has been known as Master Rivera at the Chinese Kung-Fu Wu-Su Association in Manhattan, which was founded in 1967 by Grandmaster Alan Lee.  It is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the teaching and preservation of the traditional Chinese martial arts.  Oswald has been active in Kung-Fu for 40 years, 30 of which have been spent teaching the Shaolin style.  He has appeared in one of the leading martial arts publications, Black Belt magazine, and his Meditative & Concentration Techniques of Kung Fu was published in the Encyclopedia of Body/Mind Disciplines.  He also has written an article entitled Grandmaster Alan Lee: The Making of a Legend for Inside Kung Fu magazine.

While the discipline of Kung Fu is essentially about keeping the peace and avoiding confrontation, Oswald has experienced battle.  He is a Marine combat veteran of Vietnam and was awarded the prestigious Purple Heart in addition to other honors.

Oswald Rivera was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico in 1944 and moved to New York City when he was seven years old.


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The Pharaoh’s Feast, 2003

Four Walls Eight Windows – 277 pages

This book is a history of cuisine and cooking through the ages, including 110 recipes beginning with ancient Mesopotamian tablets, circa 2500 BCE, and continuing through to present day fusion cooking. Curious cooks are given the opportunity to recreate some of the food highlights throughout history with more than 100 simple recipes. From a biblical Mess of Pottage to an eight-course bash with King Srenika in first millennial to contemporary classics like Fettuccine Alfredo, the book traces the lineage of culinary evolution. Also published in the UK by Sutton Publishing under the title, Feastíng with the Ancestors.

“Drawing on written records from the fifth century BC onward, Rivera, a veteran cookbook author, simply and as accurately as possible recreates ingredient lists and recipes so that every reader can prepare historic delights.”

 The Proud and the Immortal, 2003

Polar Bear & Company – 363 pages

In an effort to better understand the dynamics of an ongoing national tragedy, the author lived with a homeless community for three months in the old Amtrak tunnels underneath New York City. This novel reveals the needs and characteristics of this makeshift community. It is a harrowing tale told with compassion and humor and it provides important insights into a problem that seemingly will not go away.

 “Rivera proves that that great American novel can be written in our times,” wrote the Maine Times.  “It reads like the Grapes of Wrath,” raved the Somerset Gazette.

Puerto Rican Cuisine in America, 1993; Reprinted 2002/2015

Four Walls Eight Windows – 293 pages

Sprinkled throughout with Puerto Rican history, the exotic origins of various recipes and family lore, this book is an experience rich in vibrant culture and sensuous food, and remains popular because it transcends borders and cultures in favor of simply enjoying good food. Two hundred and fifty recipes.

“Rivera… has compiled a wide-ranging collection of home-style Puerto Rican recipes, both traditional dishes and those adapted or inspired by mainland cuisine.  His readable headnotes and introductions include lots of family anecdotes as well as background on Puerto Rican culture and cuisines.  Thoughtful wine suggestions accompany most dishes.  Recommended.”   -Library Journal.

Fire and Rain, 1990

Four Walls, Eight Windows – 185 pages

Based on events surrounding a prison revolt at the Marine Corps Da Nang Brig, Vietnam, this novel brings to life the dehumanizing conditions of the Marine prison and what it was like to be a “grunt” in a war where the supposed leaders were as bewildered at what was happening as the men in the field. This incident was never reported in the newspapers. The book has been hailed as the perfect metaphor for the American experience in Vietnam.

Publisher’s Weekly declared, “This true-life incident is the basis for a searing, authentic novel that adds a new dimension to our understanding of the Vietnam War.  Quietly powerful story is as realistic in its gritty detail as a war diary.”