‘La Mala Hora’ (In Evil Hour) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez


(1962, 183 P)

I read this as part of the Coursera course that I’ve been following on Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I read the book in English (of course!) but the online course that analyses the books is in Spanish. There’s nothing quite like trying to follow something fairly abstract in a language that you’ve only beginning to learn to slow your progress!

This short story was originally published in 1962 as ‘This Town of Shit’ but Garcia Marquez disavowed the original version and rewrote it.  I read it as part of a collection of short stories, but running at over 150 pages it is more strictly speaking a novella.  It foreshadows many of the themes of One Hundred Years of Solitude and he has used other sections in other stories as well.

It is set in an unnamed town, where someone is posting lampoons (ie.satirical posters) about local personalities and their hypocrisies and secrets.  It’s not made clear who the lampoon-poster is, but after a man is murdered on account of the rumours, eventually the Mayor cracks down. He declares martial law and uses the opportunity to rid the village of his political enemies.  The threat of violence hums throughout the story.   At the same time, the humidity congeals and the rain pours down without stopping. As a result, it’s a rather suffocating short story, where you almost will the violence to come down, to break the anticipation.

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