Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts
Link to Abigail Duggan's Senior Art Thesis  

Frederik Backman

Abigail Duggan 

“El Chapo” Guzman: Imprisonment and Escape

The Desire for Connection in Fredrik Backman’s Novels

In the novels, A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here, contemporary Swedish author Fredrik Backman writes about protagonists who yearn for connection. These characters lead lives in which they feel invisible and lonely. However, as they connect with other individuals, animals, or even old habits, they are able to surrender their alienation and develop new identities with which they can be happy. In the novel, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, Elsa is a seven-year-old girl who has just lost her best friend: her Granny. As the novel continues, like many of Backman’s books, Elsa learns about her past, her present, and the person she wants to be. With the help of people living in her building, a large dog, and letters from her grandmother, Elsa is able to forgive her Granny for dying and accept death with a new, more mature understanding of life. Backman’s books portray characters who have trouble connecting with others in the beginning, then through time, they understand the challenges they must face in order to achieve a new place within society.

Unlike Fredrik Backman’s characters who fear death, “El Chapo” Guzman was blatantly unconcerned by the possibility of death. As leader of the Sinaloa cartel, Guzman was one of the most powerful and affluent drug lords in Mexican history. Despite his success, El Chapo was arrested twice by Mexican and U.S. authorities and managed to escape imprisonment twice. This resulted in the popular perception of Guzman as a heroic legend. While incredibly violent, Guzman nonetheless became an inspiration to many people in Mexico because of his “rags to riches” story. El Chapo not only influenced the size of the Mexican drug market, but is also responsible for the growth of drug addiction due to widespread access in Mexico and the United States.

Major Works Consulted:

Backman, Fredrik. My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry. New York: Washington Square Press, 2015.
---. A Man Called Ove. New York: Washington Square Press, 2014.
Berenson, Tessa. “El Chapo: Timeline of Major Escapes and Captures.” Time. Last Modified January 8, 2016. Accessed February 26, 2017.
Guzman, Joaquin. Rolling Stone. Interview by Sean Penn., January 9, 2016.
Photo Credit: "Fredrik Backman on his best-selling hit, A Man Called Ove." Laurie Grassi. N.p., 23 Oct. 2014. Web. 01 Mar. 2017.


 Link to Abigail Duggan's Senior Art Thesis