Sunday, May 26, 2013

Three of the best books on Colombia

At the Guardian, Pushpinder Khaneka named three of the best books on Colombia. One title on the list:
One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez

In the best-known – and perhaps most dazzling – novel to come out of Latin America, Colombia's favourite son takes us on a magic carpet ride through his country's turbulent past.

Historical fact is liberally mixed with fantasy in a saga that spans six generations of the Buendia family. The Buendias have great strengths as well as fatal flaws, which play out in the rise and fall of the mythical town of Macondo in the South American jungle. Macondo, "an intricate stew of truth and mirages", bears more than a passing resemblance to the author's own home town of Aracataca on the Colombian coast.

In this sweep of history as seen through the eyes of a single family – all of whose males are named Arcadio or Aureliano – civil war rages, lives are lost, hearts break and dreams shatter. The looping chronology, along with generations of Buendias sharing names and characteristics, gives us history as a story of repetition and return. That keeps readers on their toes in this enthralling and highly comic novel.

With this book, the master of magic realism took a giant step towards winning the Nobel prize for literature in 1982.
Read about another book on the list.

One Hundred Years of Solitude made Michael Jacobs's list of the top ten Colombian stories, Simon Mason's top ten list of fictional families and Rebecca Stott's five best list of historical novels. It is one of Lynda Bellingham's six best books, Walter Mosley's five favorite books, Eric Kraft's five most important books, and James Patterson's five most important books.

--Marshal Zeringue