Chronicle of a Death Foretold-Gabriel García Marquez
Novel(la) in translation
"The story revolves around the events leading up to the brutal murder of Santiago Nasar, in Colombia at around the 1950′s, recounted by the testaments of the inhabitants of the town 27 years after the crime. We come to see that Santiago Nasar was killed by Pedro and Pablo Vicario, twin brothers of Angela Vicario. Her husband for two hours, Bayardo San Roman, returned her to her family having found out that she was no longer a virgin when she did not stain during their honeymoon. She puts the blame on Santiago Nasar as the one who took her virginity, and the twins set out in the morning to hunt him down, to reclaim their sister’s honor. Whether or not Santiago Nasar was truly guilty of the said crime was never revealed."
Marquez is a classic author and for good reason. This is one of his shortest but it's also my favorite of his works. Told with a journalistic or police report tone, the narrative is nevertheless twisting and turning in and out of sight. There's flashback upon flashback interspersed with the stories of the villagers. The narrator may or may not be reliable just as Santiago Nasar may or may not have deflowered Angela.
The range of stories that are told in this brief book is pretty much breath taking. There's the story of the helplessness of women (men are the active actors), the story of the indifference of religious figures, and a culture stuck between past and progress. Every character has a name and backstory but Marquez spends just enough time with each one so you sort of know each person but you don't truly know them.
It's a truly unique narrative that in the hands of a lesser author would probably devolve into confusion but by weaving the tragedy (and it still manages all the melancholy of a tragedy as the twins announce to the entire town their intentions as if they want to be stopped) and fate together, Marquez keeps us on track. Fantastic writing