A Salvadoran writer, poet, and painter of the Twentieth Century, he is remembered for such works as El Cristo Negro (The Black Christ) and Cuentos de Barro (Clay Stories). He was a founder of narrativa costumbrista, a Latin American folkloric literary movement.
He began his professional career by working as an editor for Patria, a prominent Salvadoran newspaper.
His most famous works are two short story collections: Children's Stories and Tales of Clay.
He had three daughters with his artist wife Zelie Larde.
He was a contemporary of American writer Joseph Heller.