CUERNAVACA, MEXICO -- Argentine writer Manuel Puig, who gained international fame for his novel "Kiss of the Spider Woman," died of a heart attack Sunday. He was 57.

Puig, who was suffering complications from gall bladder surgery, had earned a reputation as a leading member of the younger generation of Latin American writers for his novels written in a cinematic, non-narrative style.

His works often explored the relationships between his characters' impoverished lives and their rich, if unfulfilled, fantasies.

A lifelong film buff, Puig turned away from a potential career as a filmmaker to devote himself to literature.

But his literary style reflected the influence of screenplays -- with hardly any descriptive prose but lots of unadorned conversations, soliloquies and internal monologues.

"I mostly hear the action," Puig said in a 1985 New York Times interview. "When I started writing, I found I trusted more the language of the characters than the first person."

Puig wrote several novels, and some were later made into successful movies. Among them are "Kiss of the Spider Woman," "Betrayed by Rita Hayworth," "Eternal Curse on the Reader of These Pages" and "Heartbreak Tango."

Brazilian filmmaker Hector Babenco's 1985 film version of "Kiss of the Spider Woman," starring William Hurt and Raul Julia, brought the novelist a larger international audience. Hurt won an Academy Award for that performance.

Puig also wrote plays and movie scripts.

He was born in the small town of General Villegas, on the pampas. As a youth, he spent much of his free time in the local movie theater.

In 1946, he went to Buenos Aires to attend an American boarding school. Four years later, he enrolled at the University of Buenos Aires, where he studied philosophy.

After leaving the university, Puig won a scholarship to study film in Italy in 1956 and went on to work on several films. Futile attempts at writing screenplays led him into literature.

Puig eventually settled in Mexico, where he wrote "Kiss of the Spider Woman."

After two years in Mexico, he left in 1976, partly because of a heart condition, and moved to New York. He later settled in Rio de Janeiro.

He is survived by his mother, Maria Elena de Puig, a brother, Carlos Puig Labrada, and two sons, Javier and Agustin Garcia Gil, all of Cuernavaca, where Puig had lived since October.