Chronicle of a Death Foretold – Gabriel García Márquez

chronicle_of_a_death_foretoldIf I remember rightly, and I may be remembering wrongly, Chronicle of a Death Foretold was the third GGM book I read.  After reading Love in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude I was expecting another hugely involving piece of prose, what I got was an altogether different wee beastie.

Weighing in – if that is the right term – at 128 pages, my initial disappointment at the lack of words was immediately offset with the short summary scripted, as it so often is with books, on the back:

Santiago Nasar is brutally murdered in a small town by two brothers.  All the townspeople knew it was going to happen – including the victim.  But nobody did anything to prevent the killing.  Twenty seven years later, a man arrives in town to try and piece together the truth from the townsfolk.  To at last understand what happened to Santiage and why…

Starting a book with the ‘climactic’  event already known should make this book less interesting as a result but this being Márquez he fashions his short story into something with depth and intrigue.

Santiago Nasar, it is claimed, has committed a crime, he is then murdered, effectively letting the whole town play judge, jury and executioner as nobody prevented it, years later the never named Narrator turns up to establish the truth and find out what happened on that fateful day.

Here’s where Marquez gets clever, as well as writing in a style that has subtle detective story undertones, he also uses the book as a look at the morality of the individual and that of society. Death is used as a vehicle to judge the lives of people and societies ills.  The sheer amount of witnesses who can provide testimony of what happened that day is a stark reminder of how silence can be as powerful as speaking out.

It’s human nature to deny everything, the lack of culpability and responsibility is quite frankly alarming, the townspeople’s trust in superstition, omens and supposed foresight (not to mention plain lying over their reminiscences) which naturally absolves them of blame and guilt had me shaking my head in disgust.

It is the fallibility of a community at its worst or at least most complacent and incompetent. Hindsight is a term bandied about after the fact (of course!) and every individual claimed they had good intentions that day yet still a life was extinguished.  unsurprisingly the characters become heavily reliant on context and remembrance, or lack there of.

So who has accountability for this crime…the whole town, one individual? And more to the point was Nasar in actual fact even guilty?  That of course is for you to decide from the evidence garnered by the anonymous interrogator, but it does open intriguing avenues into how decisions can affect lives how the modern law interprets  accountability.

Don’t judge it on this beside the author’s very best works, which is hard to do when the standard is so high but this book is fascinating in its own right and at 128 pages is a nice quick read that will have you thinking over the story for weeks afterwards.

15 Replies to “Chronicle of a Death Foretold – Gabriel García Márquez”

    1. Oh yes, for something so short it is crammed full of intriguing ideas. If I had the cash I’d be sending them all around the world to you guys.


  1. I haven’t read this one, but I do so love his work, will add it to the ever growing ‘to be read’ list! (the cover of your edition is quite interesting too).


    1. That’s what attracted me too, that and curiosity about what he would do in a short format. Apparently he read Kafka’s Metamorphosis and that opened his eyes to different types of story telling. that’s another one I have to tackle at some point this year.


        1. That’s on my list, as are all his works I haven’t had the pleasure of yet. it is an eye catching title…I like the word melancholy. No One Writes to the Colonel was good but at 80 pages it was perhaps to short. But it linked into the Civil War that took place in One Hundred Year…like a lot of his books do. I love that subtle interconnectedness. Stephen King he ain’t.


  2. Got me hooked on what you wrote & at 128 pages – sounds like something that I can squeeze in somewhere within my daily madness.


  3. You always managed to pull me in to a story with your reviews. I believe publishers should let you write the blurb on the backs (or inside covers) of books! I have started a list…I call it “Books By Ste J” I have decided it is what the most refined eclectic properly educated people must read to learn about and ponder upon each and every topic. xxx


    1. High praise indeed, I will add to this list, I think properly educated and refined people need to read cheesy stuff as well. I would love that job, read a book and sum it up and then make a note that there is a longer review on the blog. Anything for a bit of shameless publicity.


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