Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel Chronicle of a Death Foretold is one of the Nobel Prize-winning author’s shorter novels, but past and current critics agree that the book’s small size hides a huge work of art. According to Jonathan Yardley in Washington Post Book World, Chronicle of a Death Foretold “is, in miniature, a virtuoso performance.”
The book’s power lies in the unique way in which Garcia Marquez relates the plot of a murder about which everyone knows before it happens. A narrator tells the story in the first person, as a witness to the events that occurred. Yet the narrator is recounting the tale years later from an omniscient point of view, sharing all of the characters’ thoughts. Garcia Marquez’s use of this creative technique adds to the mystery of the murder. In addition, the repeated foretelling of the crime helps build the suspense. Even though the murderers’ identities are known, the specific details of the killing are not.
Besides its unusual point of view, the book’s themes also contribute to its success. The question of male honor in Latin American culture underlies this story of passion and crime. As in other Garcia Marquez works, there is also an element of the supernatural: dreams and other mystical signs ominously portend the murder. Garcia Marquez’s artistry in combining these elements led critic Edith Grossman to say in Review, “Once again Garcia Marquez is an ironic chronicler who dazzles the reader with uncommon blendings of fantasy, fable, and fact.”