In a South American town during the early years of this century, a retired doctor long known as an eccentric flatly refuses treatment to victims of a riot. Years later, the doctor hangs himself. For the vengeful town, the issue becomes whether he will receive a proper burial or be allowed to rot in the house where he had lately secluded himself.

This issue becomes the focal point of recollections, from many points of view, of fragments of the doctor's bizarre history. An old military man, who was originally the doctor's sponsor and host, braves the town's anger and forces his family members to help him carry out the burial. As it turns out, no one remembers the outrage apart from a few town officials, and the burial takes place without incident.


In this 97 page story, key characters and events appear and disappear without warning or explanation, like catastrophes, or like the phenomenon from which the author takes the title--Leaf Storm. Leaf storm is principally the metaphor for the arrival and departure of a banana company and its entourage of migrants: their sudden appearance tranforms the village of Macondo into a thriving center, and their abrupt departure returns the town to hot, dusty oblivion a few years later. The notion of the leaf storm's natural force combined with lack of apparent motivation, morality, rationale or justification finds expression in the life of the doctor and the atmospheric details that provide backdrop to the drama of which he is the center by virtue of his enigmatic comings and goings.


Translated by Gregory Rabassa.

Primary Source

Leaf Storm and Other Stories


Harper & Row

Place Published

New York



Page Count