Here are the powerful opening lines of Pedro Páramo, the 1955 novel by Mexican author Juan Rulfo. Pedro Páramo is considered to be a precursor to later works of magical realism.
We recommend this book to any Level 4 or Level 5 student. It’s short, and it’s a masterpiece. You can easily find the Spanish edition online. You may need a dictionary, check out Wordreference (for words) and Linguee (for expressions).
Vine a Comala porque me dijeron que acá vivía mi padre, un tal Pedro Páramo. Mi madre me lo dijo. Y yo le prometí que vendría a verlo en cuanto ella muriera. Le apreté sus manos en señal de que lo haría, pues ella estaba por morirse y yo en un plan de prometerlo todo. «No dejes de ir a visitarlo —me recomendó. Se llama de este modo y de este otro. Estoy segura de que le dará gusto conocerte.» Entonces no pude hacer otra cosa sino decirle que así lo haría, y de tanto decírselo se lo seguí diciendo aun después de que a mis manos les costó trabajo zafarse de sus manos muertas.
Here is the English translation:
I came to Comala because I had been told that my father, a man named Pedro Páramo, lived here. My mother told me. And I promised her that after she died I would go see him. I squeezed her hands as a sign I would do it. She was near death, and I would have promised her anything. “Don’t fail to go see him,” she advised. “Some call him one thing, some another. I am sure he will be happy to meet you.” At the time all I could do was tell her I would do what she asked, and from promising so often I kept repeating the promise even after I had pulled my hands free of her death grip.