Chronicle of a Death Foretold is a short novel I would never have picked up if it hadn't been good advice from Ariel and Doug. This is a cautionary tale of the kind of senseless horror that happens when an isolated community makes harsh demands on women and then demands accountability when these demands are not met. It's brutal revenge in the name of honor, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez reaches out of the page and makes everyone an accomplice. It is an artful allegory and an excellent example of the magical realism style for which the author is known.
Chronicle of a Death Foretold can be read in a day, so if you have a day, it's worth the read.
Getting Mother's Body (2003) was the debut novel written by Suzan-Lori Parks, who won the 2002 Pulitizer Prize for Drama for her play called Topdog/Underdog, and also won a MacArthur genius grant in 2001.
I mention the fact that she's a playwright first because then it's no surprise when I insist that Parks has a real talent for writing dialog. That's important in a novel, especially to us sub-vocalizers, and these particular characters do not talk or act like the people living next door to most of us. This is Texas in 1963, and the protagonist is a 16 year old girl, Billy Beede, who is orphaned, very poor, and pregnant, with the added burden of being African-American in a segregationist time.
Billy's mother, Willa Mae, has been dead for six years, buried by her lover with a pearl necklace and a diamond ring. When Billy receives a letter letting her know that her mother's burial place is about to be paved over and that she should collect the body, Billy decides to go on a quest for the "treasure," the jewelry she could sell for money she so desperately needs. Meanwhile, Willa Mae's lover, Dill, is determined not to let the digging happen.
This is the story of how a whole family is drawn into joining this search, each with her own dreams about how one could start over or improve her life, if only she had a little of that treasure. The story is told in turns by each one of them, so that Getting Mother's Body is a collection of interesting character sketches that all come together with a little surprise at the end. I enjoyed the journey and liked the ending.