A review of the novel “One Hundred Years Of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez

Márquez was born in Colombia in 1927 and died in 2014. This work – perhaps his most famous – was published in 1967 and he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. I finally read the work after visiting Colombia and reading his later novel “Love In The Time Of Cholera”.

It is not that easy a read and I know friends who have started it but not finished it. It is over 400 pages of long chapters with no titles and long paragraphs that often cover several pages. Also it is a densely-plotted novel with minimal dialogue and a good many characters, many of whom have the same or similar names.

But it is beautifully written with captivating imagery and deploys the magic realism style favoured by a number of Latin American authors.

As the title suggests, the timescale is an unusually long one. In fact, it is the story of the men and women – all of them unconventional if not actually mad – in seven generations of the Buendía family in the fictional town of Macondo in an unnamed South America country that is clearly the author’s own Colombia.

Márquez is a master storyteller with tale after tale. In this strange world, we have one character who fights 32 civil wars, while another lives for a century and a half, and many retreat into worlds closed by space or silence. The town suffers from insomnia sickness and then has five years of constant rain followed by 10 years of no rain.

There are flying carpets, lots of ghosts, and obsessive efforts to translate mysterious manuscripts. There is a lot of solitude and plenty of sex and many deaths – and ultimately nothing at all.


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