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Classic review: Chronicle of a Death Foretold

Garcia Marquez chronicles the murder of Santiago Nasar in a small unnamed South American village.

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Chronicle of a Death Foretold
By Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Knopf 128 pp., $13.00

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[This review from the Monitor's archives originally ran on July 6, 1983.] The fictional world of Chronicle of a Death Foretold is as pungent and memorable as a sharp spice. Men wear wheat-colored linen suits and high-laced cordovans and carry canes. Hens sleep on perches in the kitchen. The bishop arrives by paddlewheel steamboat but doesn't stop, even though the townspeople are preparing his favorite soup. It is a place of simple truths and strict codes of honor, and it is unmistakably the creation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Garcia Marquez, winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature, is a Colombian whose work is extremely popular in most of the world. His most famous novel, ''One Hundred Years of Solitude,'' has sold over 10 million copies, which makes the books of many famous US authors seem self-centered and pale.

In this new short novel Garcia Marquez chronicles the murder of one Santiago Nasar in a small unnamed South American village - a murder everyone in town knew was coming, yet no one wanted to occur.

''Never,'' says the novel's narrator, ''was a death more foretold.'' This narrator, a friend of Nasar's, is recounting the events of that fateful day, years after the fact.

His purpose is not to solve the crime. The deed was done in broad daylight, in the town square, by the Vicario brothers, who believed their sister had been dishonored by young Nasar; afterward they willingly surrendered.

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