As I read "Strange Pilgrims," the collection of short stories by Colombian-born Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I was reminded of the classic television series "The Twilight Zone." Like some of the best episodes in that series, many of the stories in "Strange Pilgrims" are rich in irony and psychological intrigue, and incorporate elements of the macabre and the fantastic. And many of the stories have twist endings. This collection has been translated into English by Edith Grossman.
These stories deal with Latin Americans on voyages, for various reasons, to Europe. The book thus has a trans-Atlantic, international feel. Highlights of the collection include "Bon Voyage, Mr. President," about a deposed head of state seeking medical attention in Switzerland; "The Saint," a supernatural tale of a father seeking canonization of his daughter from the Pope; the creepy "The Ghosts of August"; and the grotesque "Seventeen Poisoned Englishmen."
Throughout the book Garcia Marquez presents many images that are beautiful or disturbing, but often memorable: a drowned man floating with "a fresh gardenia in his lapel," a moray eel nailed to a door, a bedspread stiff with the dried blood from a murder. An added bonus is the appearance of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda as a fictional character in one of the tales. "Strange Pilgrims" is a varied collection of weird treats from a master storyteller.