Klail City / Klail City y sus alrededores
(Arte Público – paperback)
Problems involving race relations and immigration never go away in the United States. Sometimes, they boil over in big, violent ways that bring them back to the headlines, spotlights and TV screens — until something else happens that shifts the media’s–and the public’s–attentions elsewhere. Yet, even then, the problems stay with us, in our daily lives and in our literature.
Klail City / Klail City y sus alrededores is the second book in Rolando Hinojosa’s famed “Klail City Death Trip” series, which recently totaled 15 novels. In Klail City, a fictional town near the Texas-Mexico border, Texas Mexicans are the majority population, but a minority of Anglos run the town.
This well-written book, set just before and during the Korean War, examines life at a time when Anglos on the high school football team are given letter jackets, but the Texas Mexican players initially are not. It is a town where a young Mexican-American veteran of combat in World War II has been shot down by an Anglo deputy sheriff under questionable circumstances. After a long-delayed trial, the deputy is cleared by a jury, and the young veteran’s father can do little else to protest except destroy a marker listing the names of men from the county who were killed during the war, including his own son. It is a town where one man tells another: “We’re like the Greeks, Don Manuel. Slaves in service of the Romans…we’ve got to educate them, these Romans, these Anglos…amounts to the same thing.”
The Spanish version of Klail City was published in the 1970s in Cuba and won the Casa de las Américas prize in 1976. Arte Público Press at the University of Houston published an English language edition in 1987.
The new edition from Arte Público is the first bilingual version to be published. The novel is presented first in English, followed by the Spanish version.
Rolando Hinojosa’s often experimental writing style has been described as having echoes of William Faulkner and Gabriel Garcia Márquez. His 15-book “Klail City Death Trip” series is set mostly in fictional Belken County in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
Arte Público is “the nation’s largest and most established publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by U.S. Hispanic authors.”
— Si Dunn