Journal of Romance Studies

Hippos, billiards, and black boxes

Reconstructing the past in Juan Gabriel Vásquez’s El ruido de las cosas al caer

Journal of Romance Studies (2021), 21, (1), 95–115.

Abstract

The article analyses the literary representation of traumatic memory in Juan Gabriel Vásquez’s novel El ruido de las cosas al caer (2011). It shows how different angles of interpretation that allow for a comprehensive understanding of the whole novel are already succinctly encoded in the first scene, a scene that has to be decoded like a palimpsest in order to present not only the individual and psychological trauma the protagonist suffered after becoming the accidental victim of a shootout, but also the collective and cultural trauma of Colombia’s recent history of violence. It is shown that the novel, whose narrator used to play billiards, is structured like a game of carom billiards, thus linking otherwise unrelated people and events through a series of successive collisions, directly or indirectly, via the rail cushions.

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Author details

Ruhe, Cornelia