The bulk of Sanchez's works have been published outside of Puerto Rico; nevertheless, he remains the island's most important contemporary author and one of its most controversial. In a key essay, he defends a "poetics of the filthy," by which he means everything that is authentic about Puerto Rican life but that is ignored or vilified by those who want to assimilate Puerto Rico into alienating North American society. His most famous novel, Macho Camacho's Beat (1976), originally published in Argentina, is a scathing indictment of the senseless fragmentation of Puerto Rican life as seen in the urban setting of San Juan. Sanchez's irreverent comedy builds on the silly lyrics of a popular song (the beat of the title), which he develops as a synthesis of life in a "country" that is neither independent nor really a significant part of American society. Sanchez has written a number of widely respected plays on the tragicomic texture of Puerto Rican life, and his fiction in general is noted for its treatment and incorporation of popular culture materials.