Tomás Rivera Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Tomás Rivera has authored numerous essays, including “Into the Labyrinth: The Chicano in Literature.” The Searchers, a collection of Rivera’s poetry, was published in 1990, and Always and Other Poems in 1973. He has had numerous other essays on education and short stories appear in anthologies, magazines, and textbooks. A collection of Rivera’s work, Tomás Rivera: The Complete Works, was published in 1991.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

And the earth did not part won the Premo Quinto Sol National Chicano Award in 1970. As Chancellor of the University of California, Riverside, Tomás Rivera is credited with bringing Chicano Studies to the academic forefront. He was a founding member of the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute in Claremont, California. The Institute, which is affiliated with the Claremont Graduate School and the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin, holds a reputation as the nation’s premier Latino think tank.

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

During his lifetime, Tomás Rivera (rih-VEH-rah) published only two books: Always, and Other Poems, a slim volume of poetry, and . . . y no se lo tragó la tierra/. . . and the earth did not part (1971; also published as This Migrant Earth, 1985; . . . and the earth did not devour him, 1987), a novel that has been widely praised as a groundbreaking work in Chicano literature. It is for this novel that Rivera is most well known. It is based on the author’s childhood experiences as a migrant worker and consists of fourteen short stories connected by thirteen vignettes. Narrated by an anonymous child, a member of a migrant family, and set during the 1950’s, the novel chronicles the hardships of the family and the community during the annual migratory cycle. The unusual format of the novel—anecdotes, stories, dialogues, and interior monologues—suggests the fragmented life of the migrant worker. Through these narratives, the protagonist not only remembers the collective past of his community but discovers himself as well.

Rivera also published several scholarly papers and addresses. Considered a major figure in the establishment of Chicano literature, Rivera offered insightful papers and essays such as “Chicano Literature: Fiesta of the Living” (1979) and “Chicano Literature: The Establishment of Community” (1982). Finally, in his role as academic administrator, Rivera produced several academic papers dealing with issues of higher education.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Tomás Rivera became the first author to receive the Premio Quinto Sol National Literary Award, given to him in 1970 for. . . y no se lo tragó la tierra/. . . and the earth did not part. This novel has been translated into English twice; it has also been recast in English into traditional novel form and been adapted and filmed. Rivera’s work is highly esteemed, and he is regarded as one of the seminal figures in Chicano literature.

Rivera rose quickly in his career as an administrator in higher education. In 1979, he was the first Latino to be appointed chancellor of the University of California, Riverside, a position he held at the time of his death.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Castañeda-Shular, Antonia, Tomás Ybarra-Frautos, and Joseph Sommers, eds. Chicano Literature: Text and Context. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1972. A rich source of information on Mexican American life, history, criticism, and literature, with Rivera’s place in the Chicano literary canon clearly delineated.

Grajeda, Ralph F. “Tomás Rivera’s Appropriation of the Chicano Past.” In Modern Chicano Writers: A Collection of Critical Essays. Edited by Joseph Sommers and Tomás Ibarra-Frausto. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1979. Grajeda thoroughly examines and analyzes Rivera’s and the earth did not part, putting it into a historical context.

Kanellos, Nicolás, ed. Short Fiction by Hispanic Writers Of the United States. Houston, Tex.: Arte Público Press: 1993. Calling Rivera “one of the most beloved figures in Chicano literature,” Kanellos offers an overview of Rivera’s academic career, and an introduction to and the earth did not part. “First Communion,” from this book, focuses on the teenager’s passage into adulthood. The anthology also includes “The Salamanders.”

Kanellos, Nicolás, ed. “Tomás Rivera.” The Hispanic Literary Companion. Detroit: Visible Ink, 1996. Includes quotes from other criticism of and the earth did not...

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