Sunday, November 29, 2009

Five best: historical novels

Rebecca Stott is a professor of English literature and creative writing at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. She is the author of the novels The Coral Thief and Ghostwalk and a biography, Darwin and the Barnacle, and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio.

For the Wall Street Journal, she named a five best list of historical novels.

One title on the list:
One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Gabriel García Márquez
Avon, 1970

My breath is still taken away by the audacity and power of this story about the many generations of a family in the fictional Colombian town of Macondo. It is a tale, as well, of Colombia itself— a mix of romance, fantasy and history. Shipwrecked Spanish galleons turn up in the middle of the jungle; a pious woman disappears into the sky like an angel; a pair of star-crossed lovers are shadowed constantly by a cloud of yellow butterflies. Magic erupts into the mundane. Gabriel García Márquez meant this novel, first published in Spanish in 1967, to show the workings of time, how it stops and starts, relapses, circles and changes speed. But "One Hundred Years of Solitude" is intended to show, above all, how much more than the mere recording of fact is required to fathom the past. Having lived under a series of Colombian dictators who revised history as they pleased, Márquez has an understandable passion for distrusting received wisdom and delving for deeper truths.
Read about another novel on Stott's list.

One Hundred Years of Solitude is one of Walter Mosley's 5 favorite books, one of Eric Kraft's 5 most important books, and one of James Patterson's five most important books.

--Marshal Zeringue