Book Review

Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez

Photo on 16-07-2013 at 23.36

It’s hot, I’m sweaty, it’s almost late. I’ve just read a little novella by Gabriel García Márquez (Colombian, Nobel Laureate, octogenarian and still going) as I inefficiently travelled the southwest-northeast London axis. Luckily, Chronicle of a Death Foretold was a pretty good travel companion.

I am yet to read any of García Márquez’s bigger, canonical, novels, though of course intend to, so this small secondhand book I found recently seemed like a good way in.

It tells the story of a murder that happened twenty seven years before the present of the narrative, a murder that an entire town knew would happen, yet all – from the killers to the victim – were powerless to stop. The narrator was a friend of the victim who has chosen to attempt to work out how the death happened, given the mass sharing of information about it and the willingness to stop it of all people. It is an honour-killing, but an honour-killing with almost certainly the wrong victim, the murderers hoping for a reprieve, the killer confused and unable to understand, aware that he is not guilty of the crime/sin for which he is being punished/murdered/repeatedly stabbed in cold blood. The detail of the violence is detached, but disturbing, the description of spilled intestines horribly riveting, the scene of the botched and destructive autopsy performed by a priest who had abortively studied medicine decades before a particular highlight.

This is an evocative and engaging read. It’s too late for me to go into more detail. Again, like with Bolaño a few weeks ago (see here), I may have started in the wrong place, but this is an impressive, snapshot text about the powerlessness individuals are rendered into by presumed social pressure.

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