Throughout the 1960s in California, Sanchez witnessed and participated in many of the eras major social and political events, the strikes of the farm workers in the Central Valley, the tumultuous U.C. Berkeley Free Speech Movement, the clashes in San Francisco between anti-Vietnam War protesters and police, the counter-culture explosion of the legendary Haight-Ashbury District.
In the 1970s Sanchez was involved in the siege of Wounded Knee in the Black Hills of South Dakota, site of the infamous massacre of Sioux Indians, where Sanchez ran strategic supplies and food to Indians trapped inside the town of Wounded Knee, which had been surrounded by armed Federal forces with shoot-to-kill orders. A partial account of this event was published by Sanchez as, THE REAL COWBOYS AND INDIANS, in a commemorative American Bi-Centennial book collection with Henry Miller, whom Sanchez knew.
Sanchez next published, ZOOT-SUIT MURDERS, set in Los Angeles during World War II. The novel explores a chaotic world of anti-Communist hysteria, bizarre religious cults, tough gangs and undercover government agents. ZOOT-SUIT MURDERS was cited by the Chicago Tribune as, "a vivid tale of political intrigue by a master of pictorial detail," and by the Los Angeles Times, “matches the best of the home-front novels of World War II...intimacy and sweep...an excellent near Hitcockian technique.” Following ZOOT-SUIT MURDERS Sanchez was honored with a Guggenheim Award for his writings.
In the 1980s Sanchez lived in Key West and traveled from there throughout the American tropics. He was in harm's way during the Civil Wars of Guatemala and El Salvador, where he traversed both political and physical jungle landscapes with a real life cast of characters, from guerilla fighters to defrocked renegade priests, to bible toting CIA spooks and hardbitten war journalists. Much of this made its way into Sanchez's novel, MILE ZERO, about which the Los Angeles Times stated, "Sanchez forges a new world vision,” and the Washington Post proclaimed the novel, “a holy terror.”
Throughout the 1990s Sanchez lived in Paris, Provence and Mallorca, the settings for his novel, DAY OF THE BEES. The epic story reveals the hidden lives of a famous Spanish painter and his French mistress, a woman transformed from an artist's muse into a heroic Resistance fighter. The esteemed newspaper Le Monde declared DAY OF THE BEES, "A literary landmark, a novel of unforgettable power about love and war, art and freedom." The French Government knighted Sanchez with the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres for his body of work.
At the beginning of the 21st century Sanchez returned to the tropics for his novel, KING BONGO, set against the glamor and intrigue of pre-revolutionary 1950s Havana, where Cuban and American cultures collided with geo-political consequence. The Washington Post lauded the novel as "an exotic portrait of sex, violence, corruption and conspiracy in Cuba."
Thomas Sanchez's newest novel, AMERICAN TROPIC, is set in the exotic island city of Key West, where a series of executions are being committed by a mysterious assassin. The victims have something unusual in common--a reckless disregard for the natural world. Someone is literally killing the people who are killing the environment. The novel propels us through a complex maze populated by rapacious developers, ruthless scammers and common people struggling in heroic acts for moral high ground as they are swept up in a torrent of ecological rage headed towards an explosive ending. The novel tackles environmental issues of our time--the disappearance of America's only Continental Reef and the on-going destruction of marine life. The San Francisco Chronicle states the novel is a “power packed thriller -- rises to the level of ferocious dramatic polemic against some of the worst crimes against nature-- and by extension humanity.”
Sanchez is currently directing a feature film documentary, INTO THE LIGHT, about the legendary film director and Actors Studio icon, Jack Garfein, a philosophical warrior against religious, racial and gender bigotry who survived 11 concentration camps beginning in 1944 at the age of 13 in Auschwitz.
The novels of Thomas Sanchez are published by Knopf/Vintage, New York.
Get more information on the novel "American Tropic."