Critical Context

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

The Devil in Texas, first published in Spanish in 1976, is an experiment in narrative technique in the tradition of Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo (1955) and works by such other writers as Agustín Yáñez and Carlos Fuentes, who cast their stories in a semifantastic ambiance. Brito’s work differs, however, in that it defines the Chicano experience. Its Texas border setting does not restrict it to a regional audience; its powerful emotional message of alienation and powerlessness should be familiar to the “hyphenated” citizen of any race or location. Brito was one of the first to use (in the original Spanish version) Mexican Spanish, Chicano Spanish, English, and a mixture of English and Spanish in a written linguistic pattern typical of oral linguistic expressions, hence capturing the spirit of the issues together with the prosaic reality. The myriad narrative voices that tell the story also contribute to the mosaic experience of the novel.

Aristeo Brito’s unique blend of fact and fiction laced with mythical and symbolic overtones transforms an apparently simple story line into a collage of images that project a powerful social message. With its rich intricacy of plot, theme, and symbolism, The Devil in Texas qualifies as an integral part of the canon of Chicano literature.