This book had been on my want to read list for at least a decade, probably longer but not quite 100 years. I had heard it was a difficult read. My difficulty with it came from the cover, as I usually read on the metro, the depiction on the front of a naked young woman made me feel more self conscious than usual. In Tbilisi (where I live) not many people read on the metro, if they do anything other than stare into space it tends to be playing Candy Crush and similar apps on their smartphones…
A modern classic, Gabriel García Márquez won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1982 (this book was first published in 1967). There are many characters in the book, often with the same name.
In less than twelve years they baptized with the name Aureliano and the last name of the mother all the sons that the colonel had implanted up and down his theater of war: seventeen.
The setting of the book is Macondo a fictitious isolated town built by the Buendia family and bounded by mountains and swamps.
Although he was given the name Jose Arcadio, they ended up calling him simply Arcadio so as to avoid confusion.
If you try to focus on individual characters it can get very confusing, I chose to skim lightly through the book, savouring the imagery. This is the classic of magic realism, a genre you need to be in the mood for blending fantasy elements into a realistic narrative, a genre where reality and dreams meld, blurring any distinction. Like “a cup of thick and steaming chocolate.” sometimes comforting, sometimes cloyingly sweet.
The narrative doesn’t flow in a linear chronological manner, it is more of a spiral. It begins with Colonel Aureliano Buendia facing a firing squad, and frequently returns to his reflections at this time. The story meanders like a grandmother’s tales. Like much of Latin America there is a background of incessant, pointless civil wars. My copy was translated by Gregory Rabassa and I wonder what may have been lost in translation.
My rating 3 out of 5