NEW YORK -- Reinaldo Arenas, 47, a novelist and former revolutionary who spent several years in prison in Fidel Castro's Cuba and whose macabre writing often focused on the death of the artist, was found dead Dec. 7 at his home in Manhattan.

Authorities said the cause of death had not been determined by the New York City medical examiner. But they said that Mr. Arenas, who had been treated for AIDS for the last three years, apparently took his own life by taking an overdose of drugs and alcohol.

Mr. Arenas was born in the rural Oriente province of Cuba. He joined the revolution led by Castro at the age of 14. He worked as a researcher in the Jose Marti National Library from 1963 to 1968, then was imprisoned in 1970.

His first novel, "Singing From the Well," won the Prix Medici in France for best foreign novel of 1969.

Mr. Arenas said he was branded a social misfit in Cuba because of his homosexuality. He spent time in a labor camp, cutting sugar cane, and was imprisoned from 1974 to 1976 after he was accused of being a counterrevolutionary.

While in the labor camp, he wrote his poem "El Central" about a sugar mill that he said represented the history of slavery and forced labor in Cuba. His second novel, "Hallucinations," was never published in Cuba and his subsequent manuscripts periodically were confiscated by police.

He fled to the United States in 1980 during the exodus of more than 125,000 Cubans from the port of Mariel, and lived in virtual poverty for several years.

"El Central" was published in the United States in 1984, and "Hallucinations" was reprinted in a new translation in 1987 under the title, "The Ill-Fated Peregrinations of Fray Sergando." That same year, Arenas published "The Graveyard of the Angels." He wrote "Farewell to the Sea" while in prison and then rewrote it after it was confiscated. It was published in the United States in 1985. Viking said it plans to publish three more novels by Mr. Arenas, as well as his autobiography, "Before Night Falls." Grove Weidenfeld is scheduled to publish another of his novels, "The Doorman," in the spring.

Survivors include his mother, who lives in Cuba.