The book: Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel García Márquez
The edition: Italian translation by Dario Puccini, Einaudi paperback edition, 90 pages
The story: Santiago Nasar is killed on a morning. This is the story of everything that happens around the murder, and of all the small things that could have stopped it but didn’t. (And much more, too.)
My experience with the book & my thoughts: this is more an exercise in style than a novel. It’s like the author said to himself: how could I tell a decade-long story through the lens of only a handful of hours? It’s like the story didn’t really matter. And as an exercise in style it is good. As far as the story goes, though, I found it wanting.
The part with spoilers: I felt disappointed when I realized that the author wouldn’t tell who actually took Angela Vicario’s virginity, or even if that was true. I expected some final revelation whereby Bayardo San Roman had other reasons to return Angela Vicario, I expected to find out that the whole reason for the murder was unreal…
What I liked: the way the story is told through all the relationships and gossip of a strictly-woven town community.
What I didn’t like: too easy satire over the Curch, the Law and everything that is in any way “official”.
Language & translation: I am writing this a bit late, so there’s nothing much that I remember about translation. As far as I recall, it was seamlessly rendered.
In the author’s own words: of course there’s plenty of social critique in this book as well:
The brothers were brought up to be men. The girls were brought up to be married.
but I didn’t care for any. Instead, I think the beginning is worth a mention:
On the day they were going to kill him, Santiago Nasar got up at five-thirty in the morning to wait for the boat the bishop was coming on.
They say that it is a reference to and an adaptation of The Trial by Kafka. Not that I would know…
(These quotes are ones I found online, I am not sure who the English translator was.)
Links to better understand this book:
Random thought: I’d like to read more of Queneau, sometime
Read this if: if you like community-related gossip (e.g. you’d stay hours listening to your neighbour telling you what has happened to the people living on the same street in the past few years), this is the book for you.