Cover image for Los gusanos : a novel
Los gusanos : a novel
Sayles, John, 1950-
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First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : HarperCollins Publishers, [1991]

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From filmmaker John Sayles (The Return of the Secaucus Seven, Matewan), a novel set in contemporary Miami that brings to life the heart and soul of the Cuban community. Filled with passion, violence, sex, and unforgettalbe characters, Los Gusanos is a rare combination of literary fiction and commercial storytelling with tremendous commercial appeal.

Author Notes

John Thomas Sayles is a novelist, screenwriter, director, and actor. He was born in Schenectady, New York, on September 28, 1950. He earned a B.S. in psychology from Williams College in 1972.

After graduating, Sayles earned a living as an orderly, a laborer, and a meat packer. Two novels and a collection of short stories were published in the 1970s. Sayles also wrote screenplays for B-movie king Roger Corman, contributing to such films as Piranha and Battle Beyond the Stars. In 1980 he wrote, directed, and acted in the film Return of the Secaucus Seven, which won the Best Screenplay award from the Los Angeles Film Critics and was nominated for an Academy Award.

In 1983, Sayles received a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant," which provided him with $30,000 per year for five years. His work during this period included the films Baby it's You, Brother From Another Planet, and Matewan. Sayles also directed the Bruce Springsteen music videos, "Born in the U.S.A.," "I'm on Fire," and "Glory Days." He also created a television series in 1989 called Shannon's Deal.

Sayles has received an O. Henry Award, a best director award from the Seattle Film Festival, a Taskforce Award, and Academy Award nominations for the screenplays for Passion Fish and Lone Star. He also wrote the screenplay for, directed, and performed in the critically acclaimed film, Eight Men Out.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

``Los Gusanos,'' or ``worms,'' is Fidel Castro's epithet for the Cubans who fled the island after the revolution. The story of these exiles--full of violent passions, tender memories and old vendettas--is what filmmaker/author Sayles ( Union City Dues ) endeavors to capture in this ambitious work. Given the tangled history of Cuba--``a succession of men exploiting men,'' as the narrator puts it--Sayles gamely constructs a plot to carry the reader through decades of turmoil and recrimination. Marta, a young Cuban nurse in a Miami old folks home, enlists a ragtag team of Cuban men--former terrorists, a priest, members of her family, an orderly with a penchant for guns--to prepare an assault on Cuba. Sayles's attention, however, drifts to whichever figure walks into the story, and he runs up and down the timeline from the '50s to the present with little design, the result being that no character sufficiently emerges from the roiling historical backdrop to engage the reader. Still, the book succeeds brilliantly as a series of closely observed vignettes--from comic flirtation rituals on a Miami beach to a harrowing recollection of the Bay of Pigs invasion to the lost love of a waitress in Havana; and the prose, spiced with Spanish and swaying to a Latin rhythm, works its gentle seductions. Overall, Sayles's impressive command of psychological detail and the narrative's generous spirit more than compensate for the book's structural flaws. Major ad/promo; first serial to Esquire; author tour. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In the early 1980s, Marta de la Pena, a beautiful, otherworldly Cuban exile living in Miami, dreams of avenging the death of her brother Ambrosio, who was killed in the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion 20 years earlier. Spurned by the mainstream anti-Castro groups in town, Marta sets out to assemble her own guerrilla strike force from Miami's large population of gun-toting idealists, madmen, and soldiers of fortune. Sayles, a noted film director ( Eight Men Out ) as well as a critically acclaimed novelist ( Union Dues , LJ 9/1/77), brings a cinematic eye to historical fiction. Focusing on the vicissitudes of Marta's extended family in both Havana and Miami, he reviews 50 years of Cuban-American relations. An exciting, instructive, and highly readable novel. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/91.-- Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.