This novel, published in 1963 as En Chimá nace un santo, makes important connections between the frustrations of poverty and the excesses of religious fanaticism.
When the paralyzed cripple Domingo Vidal is rescued unsinged from a burning house, the people of Chima believe they have witnessed a miracle. Domingo becomes their patron "saint," and tales of his miracles multiply. Domingo makes the rains come, cures the blind and lame, and swells barren wombs with new life. But is Domingo really a saint, or is he a pagan idol? Padre Berrocal calls the people heretics, but they are afraid not to worship Domingo. To what excesses will superstition and ignorance drive the frightened people of Chima?
This novel, published in 1963 as En Chimá nace un santo, makes important connections between the frustrations of poverty and the excesses of religious fanaticism. Zapata Olivella indicts the dogmatic attitudes of religious and civil institutions as a major cause of the creation of local cults like the one that grows up around "Saint" Domingo. In Zapata Olivella's compelling narrative, the struggle over Domingo points up both the inflexibility of established institutions and the potential power for change that lies within the hands of a determined populace.
- Translator’s Acknowledgment
“A superbly conceived novel, A Saint is Born in Chimá is written in a controlled, terse style not characteristic of Colombian fiction of the time . The fine translation by Thomas Kooreman gives American readers the opportunity to read one of the most accomplished Afro-Latin-American writers.”
Review: Latin American Literature and Arts
“Zapata Olivella uses folklore, religion, economics and psychology to illustrate how a revolutionary myth evolves.... The excellent translation by Kooreman well conveys the simple language of the believers as well as the subtly ironic tone of the author. In spite of the building tension and the unexpected ending, the novel carries a clear, if grim, message of optimism: social justice is entirely possible in this world, but armed resistance will be the way to impose it.”
International Fiction Review