A controversial finalist for the National Book Award in 1990, Chromos is one of the true masterpieces of post-World War II fiction. Written in the 1940s but left unpublished until 1990, Chromos anticipated the fictional inventiveness of the writers who were to come along—Barth, Coover, Pynchon, Sorrentino, and Gaddis.
On one level, Chromos is the American immigration novel par excellence. Its opening line is: “The moment one learns English, complications set in.” Or, as the novel illustrates, the moment one comes to America, the complications set in. The cast of characters in this book are immigrants from Spain who have one leg in Spanish culture and the other in the confusing, warped, unfriendly New World of New York City, attempting to meld the two worlds that just won’t fit together.
While wildly comic and populated with some of the most bizarre characters, Chromos is also strangely apocalyptic, moving towards point zero and utter darkness.