A few years ago I read most of the translated novels of Gabriel Marquez, stopping before I read his most famous work, One Hundred Years of Solitude. I recently read and posted on three of his short stories, all of which I really liked.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1928, Columbia) is a very important 20th century author. He won the Nobel Prize in 1982. Nearly all of Latin American literature stands in his shadow, including Roberto Bolano. Much of the literature of what some call "The Third World" is very derivative from the work of Marquez. For sure this is true of the writers of the Philippines. He brought into currency "Magical Realism" as a literary category. Some see "Magical Realism" as also an anti-colonial literary device and I kind of see this also. Here is how Wikipedia defines "Magic Realism":
magical realism is an aesthetic style or genre of fiction in which magical elements are blended into a realistic atmosphere in order to access a deeper understanding of reality. These magical elements are explained like normal occurrences that are presented in a straightforward manner which allows the "real" and the "fantastic" to be accepted in the same stream of thought.Have you ever hesitated or just not read a book that logically you should based on your reading history and interests just because you were somehow put off by the tremendous hype on the book? I think that is the reason I did not years ago read One Hundred Years of Solitude. On the back cover of the edition I have there is a quote from William Kennedy's New York Times Book Review article in which he says that One Hundred Years of Solitude is "the first piece of literature since the book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race".
I really do not feel a need to say a lot about this book as all sorts of posts can be found on it. My entry will be just a short reading note. I think this book should be read because of its huge influence. It also sort of gives us a feel for the crazy history of Latin America (or really any country run by capricious leaders) and Columbia in particular. There are lots of very imaginative characters and events in the book. I would say the book is fun as long as one is OK with Magic Realism which I am. Once you catch on that Marquez is kind of recreating the history of the human race it is fun to see the work develop. Marquez is a very good writer. Some of the stories and set pieces in One Hundred Years of Solitude are brilliant. There is real wisdom in this book. Should it be required reading for the whole human race? No, I am sorry I do not see this in the book.
Harold Bloom has it on his list of canon status works. I am glad I have now read this book, partially so I can see what the hype was all about and partially for its huge cultural influence. I can for sure see a major influence on Roberto Bolano. It is included in the 1997 edition of Clifton Fadiman's Life Time Reading Plan and was not even yet published when the first edition came out in 1960.