Los Gusanos

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

John Sayles is the author of two previous novels and the director of such intriguing films as THE RETURN OF THE SECAUCUS SEVEN (1980), THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET (1984), and CITY OF HOPE (1991). “Los Gusanos” ("the worms") was the scornful epithet used by Fidel Castro’s supporters to refer to the Cubans who fled after Castro came to power. The novel LOS GUSANOS is the story of one particular Cuban family who left their homeland rather than live under Castro’s oppressive Communist regime. The novel begins in 1981 with the family members colorfully living and dreaming of liberation in Miami, Florida. This Cuban family refused to give up the hope of reclaiming Cuba for themselves and the many exiles who have made Miami their adopted home.

LOS GUSANOS is full of political intrigue. The patriarch of the family, Scipio de la Pena, is confined to a nursing home. In the vivid past, he fought passionately against tyranny. His daughter Marta is the center of the novel. She wishes to avenge the death of her brother Ambrosio at the hands of the Communists during the Bay of Pigs invasion. The rich and complicated history of Cuba is lived out in this one family and the other lives that they touch. Sayles stuffs LOS GUSANOS with a large number of curious characters. There is so much going on that it becomes somewhat of a blur after awhile. Nevertheless, the author has made the struggles real and the passions strong. Sayles has sprinkled Spanish liberally...

(The entire section is 437 words.)