Review: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The Buendia family are a doomed lot, all of their grand plans always seem to come to nothing or, more often than not, end badly. Filled with magical realism, One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the story of generations of the family and the time they spend in a small settlement with limited contact with the outside world. 

I purchased a copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude because it was one of those books. You know the kind. It constantly appears on lists with titles like Books You must Read Before You Die and is one that many authors and avid readers seem to mention in interviews. Apart from that, I knew little of the story. Consequently, the first quarter dragged quite a bit. Initially I made the false assumption that the actions of the Buendia family was a metaphor for human nature, but some of the themes started to feel a bit too oddly specific and I finally caught on that the author was, in fact, discussing Columbian history. After that, it felt more like the kind of book that a slightly out of sorts English Lecturer would set for the specific purposes of infuriating their students. (Did I ever tell you about the time one of my English Lecturers set Holden's Performance for one of my classes? The same Lecturer later set Possession and admitted in a tutorial that he'd skipped most of the poetry. But, I digress ...)

One Hundred Years of Solitude is overlong, infuriating and yet strangely interesting. The themes of incest disgusted me and I'm a little bamboozled by the authors need to include some of the events in such detail, but as a metaphor for people who are doomed it seems to work well enough. Much of the readers enjoyment will derive from their ability and willingness to laugh at or with the characters and their absurd situations without feeling too disgusted or sorry for them.

Recommended, but keep a strong drink by your side as you read.


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