The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vasquez – October 2014

El ruido de las cosas al caer was published in Spanish in 2011. It was subsequently translated into English by Anne McLean and published by Riverhead Books in 2013.


The Sound of Things Falling is the story of a law professor named Antonio Yammara, who narrates the novel. Scenes switch between the 1990s Bogotá (the present), where everything is falling apart as the result of the drug wars, and the past where the drug trade seem interwoven into everyone’s lives.

In the present, Antonio and his friend Ricardo Laverde are shot in a drive-by shooting. Ricardo dies and Antonio is severely wounded. Antonio became racked with fear causing his marriage to Aura to crumble. He is contacted by Ricardo’s daughter Maya, who tells her estranged father’s story: he was a pilot who was caught smuggling drugs into the United States and given a 19-year jail sentence. Maya’s mother had returned to her native United States when Maya turned 18, and died in a plane crash when attempting to visit Maya and Ricardo after he got out of jail. As the novel progresses, Antonio and Maya are drawn together, united by their tragic pasts.

Vásquez wrote The Sound of Things Falling to explore how the drug trade affects those not involved in it, but forced to live in areas where drug cartels exercise considerable power. He drew on his own personal experience, “remembering for the first time what it was like to grow up during the drug wars”, for inspiration.While writing he realized “I was doing something which hadn’t been done before. We had all grown up used to the public side of the drug wars, to the images and killings … but there wasn’t a place to go to think about the private side … How did it change the way we behaved as fathers and sons and friends and lovers, how did it change our private behavior?”

– Wikipedia


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