Eight Unforgettable Openings of Marquez Novels


The novels of the Nobel prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who died today aged 87, grabbed you from the first sentence and remained lodged in your brain like a stray bullet. Many of the opening paragraphs dealt with death, echoing the title of his 1981 classic ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold.’ As the postmaster quips in ‘No One Writes to the Colonel’: “The only thing that comes for sure is death, Colonel.”

Here are eight of my favourite openings from the great Colombian journalist, novelist and political agitator:

“It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.” – Love in the Time of Cholera

“Over the weekend the vultures got into the presidential palace by pecking through the screens of the balcony windows and the flapping of their wings stirred up the stagnant time inside, and at dawn on Monday the city awoke out of its lethargy of centuries with the warm, soft breeze of a great man dead and rotting grandeur.” – The Autumn of the Patriarch

“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” – One Hundred Years of Solitude

“The year I turned ninety, I wanted to give myself the gift of a night of wild love with an adolescent virgin.” – Memories of My Melancholy Whores

“He sat on a wooden bench under the yellow leaves in the deserted park, contemplating the dusty swans with both his hands resting on the silver handle of his cane, and thinking about death.” – ‘Bon Voyage, Mr President’ in Strange Pilgrims

“Suddenly, as if a whirlwind had set down roots in the center of the town, the banana company arrived, pursued by the leaf storm.” – Leaf Storm

“Jose Palacios, his oldest servant, found him floating naked with his eyes open in the purifying waters of his bath and thought he had drowned.” – The General in His Labyrinth

“Erendira was bathing her grandmother when the wind of her misfortune began to blow.” – Innocent Erendira







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