Critical Context

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

The work of Miguel Ángel Asturias was more widely known in Europe and Latin America than the United States prior to 1967, the year in which Asturias was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Increased interest in his work then prompted the translation of Strong Wind into English in 1968. The other works of the Banana trilogy, which Strong Wind initiates, were translated soon afterward. Strong Wind, along with the rest of the trilogy, represents the height of Asturias’s social concern. Although it is related to the other works in its shared characters and the common theme of anti-imperialism, Strong Wind can be profitably read without recourse to the trilogy.

Strong Wind has not received the critical attention accorded to Asturias’s widely acclaimed first novel, El señor presidente (1946; The President, 1963) or Hombres de maíz (1949; Men of Maize, 1975). Less innovative and less concerned with myth than are his earlier works, Strong Wind represents Asturias’s turn toward realism as a vehicle for social commentary. Much of the criticism of Strong Wind reflects the posture of the critic with regard to “committed” literature, literature written with a social purpose. Critics who value such committed literature fault Strong Wind for excessive allusions to myth and popular beliefs, which, they claim, dilute the direct impact of the novel’s social message. Others attack the work as journalistic because its social theme overshadows the artistic elements.

Strong Wind is not limited to social realism. Because the social reality he presented is in intimate contact with nature and its forces, and because the people about whom he wrote attribute tremendous power to myth and magic, Asturias produced a novel of social realism, Magical Realism, and nature.