Crime Fiction Alphabet 2011: A is for Arriaga

Guillermo Arriaga Jordán is a Mexican writer, screenwriter, director and producer. Born in 1958, he is the award-winning screenwriter of Amores Perros (1999), 21 Grams (2003) and Babel (2006) in collaboration with director Alejandro González Iñárritu. In 2005 he won the Best Screenplay Award for The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, directed by Tommy Lee Jones, at the Cannes Film Festival. Arriaga made his directorial debut in 2008 with The Burning Plain.

As a writer Guillermo Arriaga has published Escuadrón Guillotina, 1991 (The Guillotine Squad, 2007), Un Dulce Olor a Muerte, 1994 (A Sweet Scent of Death, 2007) and El Búfalo de la Noche, 1999 (The Night Buffalo, 2007 ).

A Sweet Scent of Death – Publisher’s Synopsis:  ‘The killing of a young girl in a small Mexican village ignites a powder-trail of gossip that erupts in further violence, in this suspenseful tale from the writer of the acclaimed movie Amores Perros. Early one morning in a deserted field, Ramon Castaños is confronted with the dead body of Adela, a lovely young girl whom he had only admired from afar. But his concern for her fate is so evident that within an hour of the bloody discovery, rumour of the death of Ramon Castaños’ girlfriend has spread to every corner of Loma Grande. The villagers, thirsty for revenge, cast about for a suspect or scapegoat, and hit upon the nomadic Jose Echeverri-Berriozabal, known as ‘The Gypsy’. Honour then demands that Ramon prove his manhood and avenge the unhappy Adela; Ramon realises that he must now live out his imaginary past as a brutal reality. Here as in Amores Perros, Guillermo Arriaga spins a tale of deception, passion, and violence, expertly interweaving story-lines and characters, and fusing tragedy with dark humour. The result is a compulsive work from one of the finest writers to emerge from Mexico in recent years.

Translated by John Page. Faber and Faber 2003. 176 pages. ISBN: 9780571214174.

You can see my review of A Sweet Scent of Death, HERE.

Guillermo Arriaga’s books have been reviewed by Jean-Marc Laherrère (in French) HERE, HERE and HERE.

For additional information you can check Guillermo Arriaga’s books HERE and Guillermo Arriaga entry at Wikipedia.

The Crime Fiction Alphabet 2011 Meme is hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise.

Un dulce olor a muerte (A Sweet Scent of Dead) by Guillermo Arriaga

7438560 Guillermo Arriaga. Un dulce olor a muerte. First published in 1994. Belacqva (2007). 166 pages. ISBN: 978-84-9664-03-3.

English publisher Washington Square Press.  English title: A Sweet Scent of Death. Translated by Alan Page. I read this book for Dorte’s 2010 Global Reading Challenge, Extremist Level, this was my third North America book (Mexico).

A Sweet Scent Of Death is the second novel by Guillermo Arriaga, who is probably better known as the screenwriter of movies such as Amores perros, 21 Grams, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, and Babel.

The plot is set in a small Mexican village called Loma Grande. The story opens one Sunday morning. The naked body of a young woman, almost a girl, is found stabbed in the back in a field of sorghum. She was admired from afar by Ramón Castaños a sixteen-year-old boy. His grief is so great that soon the rumour spread that she was his girlfriend. Ramon, unable to refute this rumour, is convinced that he must avenge Adela’s death. Word spreads that the killer was Jose Echeverri-Berriozabal, known as ‘The Gypsy’. A nomadic who used to visit frequently Gabriela, a married woman, unable to defend him. And a sweet scent of death spreads in Loma Grande. Globus 2

This book is wonderfully written (in Mexican Spanish) and reminds me immediately of a Greek tragedy. Its 166 pages can be read in one go. I was left breathless when I finished it. Awesome. I must look for the rest of his books.

Guillermo Arriaga has also published Escuadrón guillotina (1991) The Guillotine Squad and El búfalo de la noche (1999) The Night Buffalo. In 2009 Arriaga made his debut as film director with The Burning Plain.

For more information about A Sweet Scent of Death you can browse inside at Simon & Schuster or read an excerpt in Spanish at Barnes & Noble.

>My Last Acquisition

>Besides reading I very much enjoy to look around in any bookshop whenever I have some time. Today I was lucky enough to find a book at an attractive discount price that immediately caught my attention: Un dulce olor a muerte (A Sweet Scent of Death) by Guillermo Arriaga.

Book Details
Arriaga, G. Un dulce olor a muerte (1994). Barcelona. Belacqva. Grupo Editorial Norma. Primera edición: febrero 2007. 176 p. ISBN. 978-84-96694-03-3.

From the Publisher
The killing of a young girl in a small Mexican village ignites a powder-trail of gossip that erupts in further violence, in this suspenseful tale from the writer of the acclaimed movie Amores Perros. Early one morning in a deserted field, Ramon Castanos is confronted with the dead body of Adela, a lovely young girl whom he had only admired from afar. But his concern for her fate is so evident that within an hour of the bloody discovery, rumour of the death of Ramon Castanos’ girlfriend has spread to every corner of Loma Grande. The villagers, thirsty for revenge, cast about for a suspect or scapegoat, and hit upon the nomadic Jose Echeverri-Berriozabal, known as ‘The Gypsy’. Honor then demands that Ramon prove his manhood and avenge the unhappy Adela; Ramon realises that he must now live out his imaginary past as a brutal reality. Here as in Amores Perros, Guillermo Arriaga spins a tale of deception, passion, and violence, expertly interweaving story-lines and characters, and fusing tragedy with dark humor. The result is a compulsive work from one of the finest writers to emerge from Mexico in recent years.

Guillermo Arriaga is the author of The Night Buffalo and The Guillotine Squad. He has worked in television, radio, and is the award-winning screenwriter of Amores perros, 21 Grams, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, and Babel.

Read an Excerpt (In English)