chapter  4
22 Pages

The People Beyond the Mountains: Crossing Boundaries

Bywith Josephina Niggli’s Mexican Village

Josephina Niggli’s body of work, impressive in its own right particularly in the field of drama2, has yielded up another facet in recent history-the semiepic novel Mexican Village. First published to general acclaim in 1945-the New York Herald Tribune called it “without peer in its field”—Mexican Village has been rediscovered and hailed as important by Chicana scholars not merely for its early publication, but for its complex rendering of the life of a Mexican border village through folklore, songs, and regional traditions. In her sensitive and perceptive handling of the villagers and the one “outsider” who yet finds himself at home, Josephina Niggli manifests in Mexican Village a complex negotiation of society, culture, border/s, and identity set on the western side of the Rio Grande, which I analyze here as operating in the same manner as Chicana texts set on the Texas side of the Mexican border. This is, indeed, a text about marginal identities and the negotiation of influences internal and external-an essential aspect of Chicana literature whether this side or el otro lado del Río Grande.