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CriticasA profoundly human novel that deals creatively with death, this 1975 masterpiece, the first Chicano novel to be nominated for the National Book Award, has finally been translated into Spanish. Novelist and journalist Arias tells the story of Don Fausto, a Mexican immigrant on the verge of death, who feels the need to see the world anew. He leaves his smog-filled barrio ("the worst place in the world to die") to embark on a surreal journey faintly reminiscent of other great voyages in the literature of Miguel de Cervantes, Juan Rulfo, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez but here transported to East Los Angeles and the Chicano world. Don Fausto's companions include his teenage niece, Carmela; Marcelino, an Andean flute-playing shepherd; street-savvy Mario; and a group of mojados ("illegal immigrants"). During his journey, he helps stage a play called The Road to Tamazunchale. Tamazunchale is a village in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, but here it is where one goes after death, the place where Don Fausto is headed. Aguilar Melantzon and Pollack caused a ripple with their controversial translation of Denise Chavez's Loving Pedro Infante (Por el amor de Pedro Infante, Criticas, May/June 2002) for their extensive use of unintelligible Chicano and Calo street language. This translation sounds authentic and colorful, but the language is more controlled. Only occasionally, in dialog, does it go beyond common understanding. For instance, "It don't look too cool. I mean it's not the thing to wear when you're trying to score" becomes "Simon, se guacha buti sura, ese. Esas no son tiras pa ligar geisas." Thankfully, this doesn't occur often enough to limit enjoyment. An essential purchase for libraries and bookstorescatering to a Chicano readership.
—Dolores M. Koch, New York City Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.