‘The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World’ by Gabriel García Márquez, translated by Gregory Rabassa 

Angela Carter fans, look no further. The fairytale, fable-like language in this story has always been fascinating to me. And so is the way García Márquez depicts the shared reality among the villagers: their collective action, and their absolute unswerving faith in the fiction they’ve created together. I often teach this story in classrooms alongside Walter Benjamin’s essay ‘The Storyteller’. The transformation of the “dark and slinky bulge” in the opening, into the man in the closing paragraphs with a specific name and past, all invented – what does this say about the role that storytelling plays for us? Are the villagers delusional or wiser than any of us will ever know? Does it all come down to figuring out how to deal with death, when it’s staring you right in the face?

In Collected Stories, Penguin, 2014. Available to read online here

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