A Book Review “No One Writes To The Colonel”, Gabriel Garcia Márquez

Review & Summary:

There is something very interesting in this novel which is the main character and his wife are nameless, which makes both characters insignificant people living in Colombia, this is kind of genius by Márquez as the reader forgets sometimes that they are without names.

Published in 1961, the story talks about a retired colonel, a veteran of the Thousand Days War, who still hopes to get the pension promised to him since 15 years. He lives in some village in Colombia with his old wife who suffers an asthma, when martial law and censorship were taking over the country.

They suffer poverty, and keep selling whatever can be soled to be able to live day by day. Their son was killed for some political repression and chaos, and the only thing left from him is a rooster, that the colonel trains to take part in a cockfight, but even the rooster is causing a problem to them because feeding the animal is a financial burden.

Márquez likes to show his reader facts about his country and how the political regime back then affected people and repressed them with poverty and censorship, and how the rich doesn’t feel the need of the poor.

The story is so real in the way he wrote it, and it does reflect a lot of humanity in it, lots of hopes and lots of flaws in human’s character and behavior. It’s a very interesting read, yet kind of sad.

A Book Summary: The Other Thing “Who Killed Layla Al Hayek”, Ghassan Kanafani

Main Characters:

  • Saleh: a famous laweyer, who’s accused for killing Layla
  • Layla: a rich woman who’s married to a man called Sa’eed, and Dima’s friend
  • Dima: Saleh’s wife
  • Sa’eed: Layla’s Husband
The Other Thing "Who Killed Layla Al Hayek"

The Other Thing “Who Killed Layla Al Hayek”


Saleh,the narrator and the main character in the story, writes a letter to his wife, Dima,  emphasizing to her that he didn’t kill Layla, after being arrested, explaining why did he not defend himself in front of the law, although he is a lawyer himself, and tells her why he decided to keep quiet, accepting to be considered the murderer, after discovering and realizing “the other thing” that actually killed Layla.

In his letter  to his wife, he writes every single detail about the story of the murder of Layla, from the moment they met along with Dima and Sa’eed, to the moment of her murder, relieving to his wife his actual intentions of accepting to take Layla’s father legacy to his daughter, wanting to win Layla as a lover.

Saleh happens to be in the murder place and, but not in the scene of murder, as he was supposed to meet Layla for their usual affair, when Sa’eed was traveling and away from home, but Layla didn’t show up nor opened the door for him. All the evidences and witnesses happen to be against him as the detector starts detecting the case of her murder, and the circumstances happen to point their fingers at him, while Layla is already dead and can’t defend him as the only person to prove his innocence

Saleh decides to remain totally quiet and refuses to defend himself in the court, and that pisses his lawyer and the judge off, but still he remains quiet, knowing for sure, nothing can prove him innocent no matter what he does, because “The Other Thing” that killed Layla is nothing but “The Accidental Circumstances” that put him from the beginning in that position, place and time. Explaining in his letter that the only things that can get him out of this scary matter and push his neck away from the hang rope is another “Accidental Circumstance”, which somehow deep inside him he knew isn’t going to happen but at the same time somehow wished for it to.

At the end Saleh’s innocence is not to be proved and he is sentenced to death by hanging.