A Cuban American Odyssey
by Edel Rodriguez
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Pub Date 07 Nov 2023 | Archive Date 15 Dec 2023
Henry Holt & Company, Metropolitan Books
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.
“Shocking. Brilliant. Soul-shattering in it’s 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