Critical Context

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Pocho is widely recognized as a literary landmark; it was the first novel in English written by a Mexican author about the Mexican experience of the United States to be printed by a major publisher. At its publication in 1959, however, the novel received little attention and went quickly out of print. After the social activism of the 1960’s, the novel was reprinted, and discussion focused on the book’s social and political import.

Pocho was Villarreal’s first novel. His second, The Fifth Horseman (1974), takes Mexico for its setting and deals with interpretation of the Mexican Revolution. While in that work Villarreal decried the excesses of the Mexican Revolution and affirmed its spirit, in Clemente Chacón (1984) he showed how high the cost of success in the United States can be for the Mexican immigrant.