New Book: “Crónica de un amor terrible”

As someone who loves teaching the work of Gabriel García Márquez in literature courses (with a particular warm spot for Crónica de una muerte anunciadaChronicle of a Death Foretold) I can’t wait to read Crónica de un amor terrible [Chronicle of a terrible love] by Nadia Celis Salgado (Bowdoin College).

The “chronicle,” published by Lumen in March 2023, is an exploration of the places, events, and characters that inspired one of the most recognized novels of Gabriel García Márquez. Examining the underlying violence of women’s “sentimental education,” the book takes us on “a journey through mysteries that remain unresolved, in fiction and in life, around the story of the returned wife, Margarita Chica Salas” (WMagazín). Here is a brief description followed by an excerpt from an earlier review.

Description: During a visit to the Harry Ransom Center, where Gabriel García Márquez’s personal files are kept, Nadia Celis came across an important discovery: an unpublished manuscript of the Chronicle of a Death Foretold that contains an unusual epilogue. The discovery triggered in the writer the impulse to unravel the effects that the famous Nobel Prize-winning novel had and continues to have not only on the real characters who inspired that story, but also on its thousands of readers. This book, the extraordinary account of her investigation, is an exciting journey that exceeds the limits of fiction and reality.

Excerpts from WMagazín: On the morning of January 22, 70 years ago, in 1951, the inhabitants of a remote town in the Colombian Caribbean called Sucre, woke up to the uproar of a fratricidal crime. Víctor and Joaquín Chica Salas had just stabbed their friend Cayetano Gentile Chimento, in revenge for the dishonor of their sister Margarita, whose husband, Miguel Reyes Palencia, had returned her to her family after verifying on the night of wedding that she was not a virgin. Terrified by the beatings of her husband and the fury of her brothers, Margarita had confirmed the rumor that had been circulating in town since she had been Cayetano’s girlfriend five years earlier: that the couple had had sexual relations. Margarita was still crying in her family home when they gave her the inconceivable news that would change her life forever, because Cayetano’s murder and her husband’s abandonment added to the town’s pointing fingers [and denigrating judgement towards the young woman].

[. . .] It is also the story of “terrible” love affairs that unleashed a string of misunderstandings, cultural prejudices, and the physical and psychological abuse suffered by a woman, by women, and a review of the issue of collective responsibility that García Márquez wanted to illustrate with his reconstruction of the story of that 1951 crime.

[. . .] What was real was that dawn in January 1951. The event was an honor killing protected by the feudal code that subsisted in the region and by the law, which would end up declaring the Chica Salas brothers innocent for having acted “under intense anger and pain.” Murder was also ubiquitous in that bloody half-century that still bears the infamous title of “The Violence” [La Violencia] with a capital V, marking as a high point in the long history of armed struggle that continues to plague the Colombian people. Thus, the death of Cayetano Gentile would have been forgotten if it had not been for the fact that the family of Gabriel Eligio García and Luisa Santiaga Márquez, relatives of the deceased and of the murderers, and Gabriel García Márquez parents, lived in that town then. The family left the town weeks later, with the help of his eldest son, Gabo, who received the news in Barranquilla, a vibrant Caribbean port nearby where he was making his way as a journalist. Although he knew immediately that he had to tell that story, it took the future winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature three decades to put together the pieces that would become his sixth novel. [. . .]

Excerpts from WMagazín translated by Ivette Romero. For full article (in Spanish), see

For purchasing information, see

See and excerpt of the novel at

Also see

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