La Novela sicaresca: exploraciones ficcionales de la criminalidad juvenil del narcotráfico

Document Type


Date of Degree


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Access restricted to UI faculty, staff and students.

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

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First Advisor

Brian Gollnick


This dissertation examines the emergence and consolidation of a textual corpus known as the sicaresca novel, a new genre that proliferated in Colombia in the 1990s. These novels emerged from the violence of the drug wars, and are named after the sicarios, young paid assassins recruited by drug traffickers.

The main hypothesis claims that the sicaresca novel is a new literary genre that opens with Our Lady of the Assassins by Fernando Vallejo, and is consolidated by Morir con Papá by Óscar Collazos, Rosario Tijeras by Jorge Franco, and Sangre ajena by Arturo Alape. This work builds on discourse analysis and theorizes some of the characteristics of the sicaresca novel that create a distinctive narrative discourse, directly engaged with the political, economic, and social reality of Colombia.

The first chapter is devoted to the effect of drug-trafficking on the rise of a new subculture where the sicario’s attitudes and beliefs are embedded, and relates the sicaresca to other narratives about drug-trafficking. The second chapter studies specific narrative forms in Our Lady of the Assassins that will be copied, altered or subverted by the subsequent novels, such as the use of a street vernacular known as parlache, and other devices borrowed from oral tradition. The third chapter studies fictional configurations of the sicario archetype in relation to the Bildungsroman, the sentimental novel and the picaresca novel. This section reveals how each archetype denaturalizes presumed natural concepts about the sicario figure, validated by official discourses. The fourth chapter examines the relation between the sicaresca novel and mass media. It questions the role of the cultural critic in the reception of the sicaresca novel as a whole, and analyzes how the dialogue between literary and cinematic discourse is established for Our Lady of the Assassins and Rosario Tijeras and their adaptations to film

The sicaresca novel is built on the transformation of narrative devices used by testimonial writings, historical accounts and sensationalist press related to drugtrafficking and its young assassins. All the works studied represent a critique of the social, economic and cultural changes that conditioned the sicario’s appearance during the last decades.


vi, 210 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 203-210).


Copyright 2006 Margarita Rosa Jácome Liévana