Come The Day by Manuel Mejía Vallejo
A translation by Jon Lindsay Miles, and with an afterword by the translator. Published in July 2016.
Come The Day is one of the finest examples of what is known as the literature of La Violencia, the violent unrest unleashed across Colombia by the murder of liberal leader Jorge Eliécer Gaitán in 1948. It was the first title from Latin America to win the Spanish Nadal Prize (1963) and has remained in print since.
Weaving four stories into a complex narrative of reprisal and redemption in the fictional town of Tambo, Mejía Vallejo’s classic novel concentrates on the human stories of ordinary people living through dramatic times. Raised to a mythical tone, the novel reaches beyond the immediate world of Colombia to embrace the broader landscape of the human condition.
Teacher of literature and journalist, Manuel Mejía Vallejo decided his public profile made it wise to leave his native land during La Violencia. He returned home from his exile in Central America in 1957 and settled in the country house in the hills above Medellín which the winnings from his prize-winning short stories had bought.
In his book-length study of the Colombian novel, La novela colombiana. Planetas y satélites, Latin American scholar Seymour Menton concludes that amongst
the forty-seven novels dealing with the Violence that were published from 1951,… there is no doubt that the novel most worthy of literary analysis is Manuel Mejía Vallejo’s Come The Day.
Mejía Vallejo was awarded the Rómulo Gallegos Prize in 1989 for his novel La casa de las dos palmas.
You can read more about the novel, and an illustrative passage from the translation, at Ventana Latina. Contact me if you’d like to see a copy of the Come The Day, which is not available commercially.