A Mutis woman

Alvaro Mutis Colombian Writer Tramp Steamer

Alvaro Mutis, one of Colombia’s most beloved writers, died today at age 90. A surprising number of media outlets are reporting the news and recalling Maqroll, the sailor that Mutis wrote to life.

But, he created another memorable seaman, Captain Jon Iturri, who plays the hero in The Tramp Steamer’s Last Port of Call, one of the shortest stories within the Maqroll novellas.

Much like Garcia Marquez’ Chronicle of a Death Foretold, this heartbroken tale at once confirms that things will end badly from its very title and makes the reader plow through, anxious to witness the tragedy for himself.

Iturri falls in love with his boss Warda Bashar, a young Lebanese woman who inherited the Tramp Steamer.  According to Mutis’ descriptions of Warda, she might be one of the most beautiful and intelligent women to have ever lived. In the picture above, she is quoted as saying:

Let’s say I am conservative, but I want to decide what it is I wish to conserve, without consulting it with anyone or waiting for their approval.

There is no real way to spoil the story, but even then, I’d rather not say what happens between Warda and Captain Iturri. It truly is worth the 90-page read.

For more on the story and Mutis, Biblioklept published a great piece, which includes an excerpt from  John Updike’s 2003 review of the Maqroll tales for The New Yorker.

Read Bogotá 2008

Explore more