Hijo de hombre (1960; Son of Man), Roa Bastos' first published and award winning novel, represents his definitive break with poetry. It is seen as a refined "outgrowth" of his earlier works of short fiction such as El trueno entre las hojas (1953), which also dealt with themes of political oppression and social struggle in Paraguay. This novel portrays the conflict between the governing élite and the oppressed masses in Paraguay from 1912 until just after the end of the Chaco War with Bolivia in 1936. Like his later Yo, el Supremo, Hijo de hombre draws upon a series of Paraguayan legends and stories dating back to start of Dr. Francia's dictatorship in 1814.
Hijo de hombre builds upon a system of Christian metaphors as part of the Neobaroque concept of Magic Realism, in order to examine the pain of being Paraguayan. This novel contrasts two figures: Miguel Vera and Cristóbal Jara. Vera narrates the odd chapters, although he might also be the narrator of all nine chapters (this is unclear). He is a well-to-do and educated romantic supporter of revolution, who is unable to take real action to support his ideals and in the end betrays them (not unlike Judas). Jara, on the other hand, is an uneducated "son of man" who becomes a Christ-like leader for Paraguayan people through action and strength of character. Although it was a massive critical success, Roa Bastos remained dissatisfied with the work for a number reasons. It was fourteen years before he published another novel.