Worm: A Cuban American Odyssey (Hardcover)
From “America’s illustrator in chief” (Fast Company), a stunning graphic memoir of a childhood in Cuba, coming to America on the Mariel boatlift, and a defense of democracy, here and there
Hailed for his iconic art on the cover of Time and on jumbotrons around the world, Edel Rodriguez is among the most prominent political artists of our age. Now for the first time, he draws his own life, revisiting his childhood in Cuba and his family’s passage on the infamous Mariel boatlift.
When Edel was nine, Fidel Castro announced his surprising decision to let 125,000 traitors of the revolution, or “worms,” leave the country. The faltering economy and Edel’s family’s vocal discomfort with government surveillance had made their daily lives on a farm outside Havana precarious, and they secretly planned to leave. But before that happened, a dozen soldiers confiscated their home and property and imprisoned them in a detention center near the port of Mariel, where they were held with dissidents and criminals before being marched to a flotilla that miraculously deposited them, overnight, in Florida.
Through vivid, stirring art, Worm tells a story of a boyhood in the midst of the Cold War, a family’s displacement in exile, and their tenacious longing for those they left behind. It also recounts the coming-of-age of an artist and activist, who, witnessing American’s turn from democracy to extremism, struggles to differentiate his adoptive country from the dictatorship he fled. Confronting questions of patriotism and the liminal nature of belonging, Edel Rodriguez ultimately celebrates the immigrants, maligned and overlooked, who guard and invigorate American freedom.
About the Author
Edel Rodriguez is a Cuban American artist who has exhibited internationally with shows in New York, Los Angeles, Havana, Berlin, La Paz, Cape Town, Prague, and London. A regular contributor to the New Yorker, the New York Times, and Time magazine, he has created over two hundred magazine and book covers and illustrated several children’s books, including Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx, and is the author of Sergio Jumps and Sergio Saves the Game. Rodriguez’s artwork is collected by various institutions, including the Smithsonian Institution, and has received numerous awards from the Art Directors Club and the Society of Illustrators. Worm is his first graphic novel. He lives in New Jersey.
Named a Best Book of the Year by NPR and Kirkus Reviews
Winner of the Society of Illustrators Gold Medal
“Uniquely positioned to comment on autocracies and authoritarianism, Rodriguez reveals his personal fears about the future of the United States, particularly after the Jan. 6 insurrection. He portrays the crowd on the Capitol much like the one in Havana in January 1959 that starts the novel, bringing it full-circle in a striking visual comparison. It’s these moments . . . that bump Worm up from good to great.”
—Donna Edwards, Associated Press
“Shocking. Brilliant. Soul-shattering in its terrible beauty. In Worm, Edel Rodriguez rips open a heart-shaped window onto a hate-shaped world. I can’t believe he survived it, but am deeply glad he did and was able to tell the tale. This book is so good it will likely be banned in Florida.”
—Chip Kidd, author of The Cheese Monkeys
"Exhilarating, immensely powerful, gorgeous, Worm really does open the imagination and sweep you up."
–Philippe Sands, author of East West Street
"Worm has consumed me more than any memoir I've read before, and that is saying a lot. It belongs in the pantheon that Maus built."
–Steven Heller, Print Magazine
"A stunningly rendered elegy."
–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A sharply observed document of totalitarianism and its discontents—this gifted artist in particular."
–Kirkus (starred review)
"A powerful addition to the journalistic memoir comics canon."
–Booklist (starred review)
"Fascinating and complex… A passionate firsthand account of historical events and a compelling coming-of-age tale in one."
"[Edel Rodriguez] is a master at line, perspective and ‘economy of means’. The drawings in the book are amazing... I particularly loved the drawings of Edel’s father, Tato, who grows old throughout the book. Beautiful. I just really enjoyed this book... it was a joy to read and gave me quite a bit to think about."