Skip to Content

The Book: Tomás Rivera's ...y no se lo tragó la tierra

y no se lo tragó la tierra
And the Earth Did Not Devour Him
by Dr. Tomás Rivera

English Translation by Evangelina Vigil-Piñón

Book cover: Tomás Rivera's ...y no se lo tragó la tierra / ...And the Earth Did Not Devour Him

New edition with cover design / photography by Irasema Rivera
Houston: Arte Público Press, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-55885-815-2
146 total pages

Original Spanish, 1-71
English translation, 73-145

» The Author: Tomás Rivera
» How to get your copy
» Video Introduction

Publisher's Synopsis

"I tell you, God could care less about the poor. Tell me, why must we live here like this? What have we done to deserve this? You’re so good and yet you suffer so much," a young boy tells his mother in Tomás Rivera’s classic novel about the migrant worker experience, …y no se lo tragó la tierra / And the Earth Did Not Devour Him. Outside the chicken coop that is their home, his father wails in pain from the unbearable cramps brought on by sunstroke from working in the hot fields. The young boy can’t understand his parents’ faith in a god that would impose such horrible suffering, poverty, and injustice on innocent people.

Adapted into the award-winning film …and the earth did not swallow him and recipient of the first award for Chicano literature, the Premio Quinto Sol, in 1970, Rivera’s masterpiece recounts the experiences of a Mexican-American community through the eyes of a young boy. Forced to leave their home in search of work, they are exploited by farmers, shopkeepers, even other Mexican Americans, and the boy must forge his self identity in the face of exploitation, death and disease, constant moving, and conflicts with school officials. Rivera hauntingly writes about alienation, love and betrayal, man and nature, death and resurrection and the search for community.

Critical Praise

"One of the first major novels of the [Chicano literature] revival." —The New York Times

"This book tells its stories through the eyes of a young boy, the child of migrant farm workers. Together the stories create a real world, one which evokes wonder, fear and sadness, then frustration and rage as the narrator grows. Very well translated." —Books of the Southwest

"Tomás Rivera journeyed a long way from his early days in the South Texas town of Crystal City, where he was born to a family of migrant farmworkers. He enjoyed a varied and distinguished career as an educator and was appointed by presidents Carter and Reagan to serve on national higher education commissions. But arguably his most lasting accomplishment is [this] book." —Don Graham, Texas Monthly

Reading Questions

In reading the book, consider this year's Common Experience theme: "Bridged Through Stories."

Ask yourself:

» What is your story?
» What will your legacy be?


Text on this page adapted directly from the publisher's website for the book: ...y no se lo tragó la tierra / ...And the Earth Did Not Devour Him