In Evil Hour (La Mala Hora) is a short novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez published in 1962, 5 years before One Hundred Years of Solitude. Though not exactly a prelude, it does mention Macondo, Colonel Aureliano Buendia, in passing.
In a small Columbian village, lampoons exposing secrets and scandals of the residents are being put up mysteriously in the early hours of the morning. Though the lampoons don’t contain anything the residents don’t already know about each other, they nonetheless cause havoc in the entire village. Try as they may, the government and the authorities are unable to discover the author(s) of the lampoons, nor to catch those responsible for putting them up while the whole village sleeps.
The novel, instead of focusing on one main character, follows a few characters which have influence over the village; the town priest, Father Angel, the governor, and the appointed Judge. Aside from the priest, the Governor and the Judge represent the new government that seemed to be forced upon the village and one that the villagers don’t trust. Other residents, such as 3 prominent families, a doctor, a dentist, a barber, and a shopkeeper, represent those against the new governor and everything he stands for.
Though mainly about the lampoons being posted around town, the novel never actually discussed the in details the contents of the lampoons, nor the people they were written about, though its presence presence hung over the village like a poisonous fog, causing unrest and fear among the villagers.
I didn’t always understand what was going on in the novel, but it’s clear that In Evil Hour is a political book, exposing the corrupt practices of government officials who come in to power despite not being elected by the people. In Evil Hour depicts the sufferings experienced by simple villagers at the hands of government officials and their wealthier neighbors alike, as well as the power struggles between the new government and the old.
A bit ambiguous and confusing at times, I wouldn’t recommend this novel to anyone who has never read Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Despite being a short novel, it is a deep novel full of criticisms against politics and society.
In Evil Hour (1962) – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Penguin; 183 pages
Personal rating: 2.5/5