Rosario Tijeras: A Novel

Rosario Tijeras: A Novel

5.0 1
by Jorge Franco Ramos

"Since they shot her at point-blank range while she was being kissed, she confused the pain of love with that of death." Rosario Tijeras is the violent, violated character at the center of Jorge Franco's study of contrasts, set in self-destructing 1980s Medellín. Her very name-evoking the rosary, and scissors-bespeaks her conflict as a woman who


"Since they shot her at point-blank range while she was being kissed, she confused the pain of love with that of death." Rosario Tijeras is the violent, violated character at the center of Jorge Franco's study of contrasts, set in self-destructing 1980s Medellín. Her very name-evoking the rosary, and scissors-bespeaks her conflict as a woman who becomes a contract killer to insulate herself from the random violence of the streets. Then she is shot, gravely wounded, and the circle of contradiction is closed.

From the corridors of the hospital where Rosario is fighting for her life, Antonio, the narrator, waits to learn if she will recover. Through him, we reconstruct the friendship between the two, her love story with Emilio, and her life as a hitwoman.

Rosario Tijeras has been recognized as an admirable continuation of a literary subject that was first treated by Gabriel García Márquez and then by Fernando Vallejo. A work in the Latin American social realist tradition, Rosario Tijeras is told in fast and vibrant prose and with poetic flourish.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The American debut by award-winning Colombian novelist Franco is an energetic but awkward combination of As I Lay Dying and a Quentin Tarantino splatter-fest a slim novel that leans more toward the latter's B-movie violence than Faulkner's penetrating examination of a character's death. Beginning when Rosario Tijeras is shot at point-blank range, the narrator, one Antonio, tells the story of the Colombian beauty who got her name (Tijeras means scissors) from the weapon she once used to castrate a man who attacked her. As Rosario lies dying in a Medell n hospital, Antonio recounts her troubled life in flashbacks and memories, revealing a stricken empathy (he feels "Rosario's anguished solitude in this world"). Unfortunately, his infatuation with Rosario, "one of those women who are poison and antidote at the same time," feels like a mixture of adolescent infatuation and routine sexual tension. Meanwhile, Rosario's story is full of South American hit men and drug runners; she's a neighborhood idol "Castrate me with your kisses," reads graffiti scrawled in her honor but she never feels completely real. Franco's prose is uneven: it's impassioned and colorful, but marred by overly dramatic lines like "Rosario looked most deadly and most woman when she was making love." The novel won the Dashiell Hammett prize in 2000, but what's hard-boiled about the novel the action, the murder, the femme fatale fits uneasily with the melodrama of unrequited love and a woman whose kisses taste "like a dead person's." Franco shows talent, but readers may hope that his next gritty urban drama has a bit more plot backing it up. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Born in Medelli n, Colombia, celebrated author Franco won the 2000 Dashiell Hammett Prize with this, his second novel. Picking up a literary subject that fellow Colombian Fernando Vallejo treated in the acclaimed La virgen de los sicarios (Our Lady of the Assassins, Cri ticas, Mar./Apr. 2002), Franco recreates the life of a contract killer in violent, self-destructing 1980s Medelli n. His focus on the female experience is what sets his novel apart. The protagonist, Rosario Tijeras, has been shot and fatally wounded after years of merciless killing and flirting with death. From the corridors of the hospital where she fights for her life, a young man named Antonio reconstructs their friendship; his undeclared love for her; Rosario's relationship with his best friend, Emilio; and her adventures as a hitwoman and prot g of the Medelli n drug cartel. Franco cleverly explores the clash between the wealthy and the poor, as Antonio and Emilio, both born to upper-class families, enter Rosario's world and vice versa. He also successfully constructs Rosario's ambiguities she can be loving and maternal one day and cold and merciless the next but, ultimately, his female portrayal disappoints. Franco falls into the clich d notion of the unattainable, violent woman the femme fatale who not only kills but castrates (hence her surname, which means "scissors"), without producing a profound and innovative picture of a woman who must become a killer to survive the hellish drug-trafficking world. Still, this is an important addition to literature in the Latin American social realist tradition, and the author's fluid and vibrant prose will surely capture readers of all backgrounds. Recommended for alllibraries and bookstores. The book is also available in English from Seven Stories Press. Carmen Ospina, "Cri ticas" Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Colombian novelist Franco's third book but first to appear here is a kind of South American Scarface, about the rise and fall of a poor girl who becomes a player in the Medell'n mob wars. Colombia in the 1980s was one big gang fight, not even easy to sort out the cops from the gangsters. Our narrator Antonio, who came from the sheltered preserves of the Colombian upper class, saw the change right away: Suddenly the poor (some of them, at least) had more money than the rich-who lost no time trying to get into the game. Antonio and his friend Emilio (another trust-funder) soon found themselves partying at Medell'n discos with kids from the slums who threw around more drug money (and drugs) in the course of an evening than their families made in a year. That was how they met Rosario ("Scissors") Tijeras, a tough beauty whose brother Johnefe was a rising figure in the mob. How tough? When Rosario was raped as a teenager, she hunted her attacker down and castrated him. It gave her a nickname and a standard m.o., and soon she was one of the most feared hit-women in Colombia. But she managed to fall in love with Emilio all the same, despite the differences in their backgrounds and the opposition of Emilio's family and of her brother's partner Ferney (whom she threw over for Emilio). As Antonio begins the story, Rosario has just been shot and lies in the hospital dying, so there's no illusion about a happy ending. What we get instead is a succession of vignettes from the life of a strangely passionate cold-hearted killer who managed to inspire love as well as fear in those unlucky enough to get too close to her. Oddly flat: an intense, raw portrait of l'amour fou just slightly too deadpan to betaken seriously. Agent: Thomas Colchie

Product Details

Seven Stories Press
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English-language Edition
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Product dimensions:
5.94(w) x 8.55(h) x 0.74(d)

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Meet the Author

Born in Medellín, Colombia, in 1962, JORGE FRANCO studied film at the London International Film School and Literature at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá. He began his career as a writer in 1991 and was awarded the Pedro Gómez Valderrama National Narrative prize for a collection of short stories entitled Maldito amor. His first novel, Mala Noche, won the Ciudad de Pereira National Novel Competition. Franco is considered one of the youngest writers of note in Latin America, and one who has already earned a prominent place alongside several world-renowned Colombian writers.

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