Critical Context

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Alburquerque brings Anaya’s history of his people and of New Mexico up to the present. The history begins with the first and most famous novel, Bless Me, Ultima (1972), and continues in Heart of Aztlán (1976) and Tortuga (1979), between which and Alburquerque there is a lapse of some twenty years. It contains the elements for which Anaya has become best known—the celebration of the Mexican heritage of the Southwest, including its folklore and its deep commitment to family, to the land, and to the sense of mystery beyond the reach of science to explain. As does Heart of Aztlán, Alburquerque makes use of Old Testament typology; Clemente Chávez, the protagonist of Heart of Aztlán, leads the workers in a strike against the railroad, much as Moses led his people out of bondage, and Abrán, his grandson, is the Abraham who will be the founder of a new nation of chosen people, people of mixed blood.

The literary influence most apparent in this novel is that of the school of Magical Realism, an influence that places Anaya in the company of many distinguished Latin American writers. Perhaps equally important is the influence of a number of New Mexico writers who have anticipated various themes developed in Alburquerque. Leslie Silko, in her well-known novel Ceremony (1977), developed the theme of the person of mixed blood as the progenitor of a race better suited to...

(The entire section is 423 words.)