MacArthur Fellows Program

John Sayles

Filmmaker and Writer | Class of February 1983

Filmmaker and Writer
New Jersey
33 at time of award
Area of Focus
Moving Image
Published February 1, 1983

About John's Work

John Sayles is a writer of fiction and screenplays and a director of films.

In his work, Sayles uses storytelling to bring together people separated by race, ethnicity, class, age, or sex.  The subjects of his many films have ranged from the 1919 Black Sox scandal, to the story of a girl living with her grandparents in County Donegal, Ireland, to a Florida beach community’s transition from small town to corporate resort complex.  In all of his fiction, screenplays, and films, Sayles emphasizes the political and interpersonal facets of his plots.


Sayles’s published work includes the novels Pride of the Bimbos (1975), Union Dues (1977), and Los Gusanos (1991), and the short story collections, The Anarchists’ Convention (1979) and Dillinger in Hollywood: New and Selected Stories (2004).  He has written and directed numerous films, including Return of the Secaucus Seven (1978), Lianna (1982), Baby, It’s You (1983), The Brother from Another Planet (1984), Matewan (1987), Eight Men Out (1989), City of Hope (1991), Passion Fish (1993), The Secret of Roan Inish (1995), Lone Star (1996), Men With Guns (1997), Limbo (1999), Sunshine State (2002), Casa de los Babys (2003), and Silver City (2004).

Sayles received a B.A. (1972) from Williams College.

Recent News

John Sayles has written and directed eighteen feature films and written two short story collections and four novels, the last being A Moment in the Sun, published by McSweeney’s in 2011. He continues to be a screenwriter for hire and recently completed his one hundredth screenplay.

Updated July 2015

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