George Washington Gómez (Spanish Language Edition)
by Américo Paredes
Spanish-language translation by María Jesús Fernández-Gil
Publication Date: April 30, 2014
This classic novel about the struggles of Texas Mexicans to preserve their property, culture and identity in the face of Anglo-American migration to and dominance of the Rio Grande Valley is available for the first time in Spanish.
Born in the early part of the twentieth century, George Washington Gómez is named after the American rebel and hero because his parents are certain their son will be a great man too. George, or Guálinto as he’s known, grows up in turbulent times. His family has lived for generations in what has become Texas. “I was born here. My father was born here and so was my grandfather and his father before him. And then they come, they come and take it, steal it and call it theirs,” his Uncle Feliciano rages.
The Texas Mexicans’ attempts to take back their land from the Gringos and the rinches—the brutal Texas Rangers—fail. Guálinto’s father, who never participated in the seditionist violence, is murdered in cold blood, and Feliciano makes a death-bed promise to raise his nephew without hatred.
Young Guálinto comes of age in a world where Mexicans are treated as second-class citizens. Teachers can beat and mistreat them with impunity, and most of his Mexican-American friends drop out of school at a young age. But the Gómez family insists that he continue his education, which they know he will need in order to do great things for his people. And so his school years create a terrible conflict within him: Guálinto alternately hates and admires the Gringo, loves and despises the Mexican.
Written in the 1930s but not published until 1990, George Washington Gómez has become mandatory reading for anyone interested in Mexican-American literature, culture and history.
“An absorbing, heart-rending story told with sensitivity and wisdom . . . this book deserves a wide readership not only for its artistry but also for its subject matter.”—Beaumont Enterprise
“Paredes evokes boyhood with more sympathy than anyone since Dickens . . . an excellent book.”—Austin American Statesman
“Narrated in the traditional realism of the book’s era, this pioneering text is a photograph of the past, a look at the state of things and actions in the border states of the American Union. With a simplicity that avoids melodrama, Américo Paredes draws for us a dusty Texas where the horses are replaced by Ford T’s, the ranchers for the oilmen, and the old, Western-style shoot-outs for order and certain laws. Paredes could see the necessity and importance in the act of building a personality, a pride…whether we are George Washington Gómez or Obama Pérez, the identity is what counts, the name is the least of it.”
—Hola Cultura: DC’s Cultural Hub
AMÉRICO PAREDES (1915-1999), the famed Chicano folklorist who died at the age of 84, is widely considered to have been at the forefront of the movement that saw the birth of Chicana/o literary and cultural studies as an academic discipline in the 1970s and 1980s. He was professor emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of numerous ground-breaking works, including With a Pistol in His Hand: A Border Ballad and Its Hero (University of Texas Press, 1970), the novel George Washington Gómez (Arte Público Press, 1990), a collection of stories, The Hammon and the Beans and Other Stories (Arte Público Press, 1994) and two collections of poetry: Cantos de adolescencia / Songs of Youth (Arte Público Press, 2007) and Between Two Worlds (Arte Público Press, 1990).
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