THE DEVIL IN TEXAS by Aristeo Brito


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This short phantasmagoric novel, encapsulating four generations of a Chicano family in a Texas border town where they are reduced to sharecroppers, won the 1990 Western States Book Award (judges included N. Scott Momaday and Elizabeth Hardwick). Printed bilingually, it feverishly renders the systematic exploitation of Chicanos. Part autobiography, part fable, the story is written in three parts that correspond to three historical periods in Presidio, the border town, where there is ""nothing to remember except clouds and the devil"": the first part, set in 1883, dramatizes the illegal Anglo acquisition of land and the decay of the town. At the center of the narrative is the Uranga family. The Anglo Ben Lynch marries Rosario, a Uranga, and thus consolidates his land-grab, while Francisco Uranga (Don Pancho), an activist, is defeated, though his son Reyes becomes a guerrilla. The second part, in 1942, concerns Chicanos who depend on seasonal work; Reyes' son Jose is a sharecropper who is arrested for refusing to be drafted (it is his unborn son who narrates this section). The third part, very short and set in 1970, is a kind of coda--Jose's son, a poet/journalist (the one who narrates the second part from the womb), returns from exile to witness the death of his father and to dedicate himself to recording the true history of the region. He decides to stay in Presidio, where the devil is literally alive, though the reader has known since the introduction that ""being born there is like being bombe half dead."" A short, powerful novel, published in a unique format and prefaced by a scholarly introduction that identifies its place in the tradition of Chicano literature.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Bilingual (Arizona State Univ., Tempe, AZ 85287)