Reading “100 Years of Solitude” by Nobel prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez for the second time, I was astounded how much I had missed the first time around. I began to feel that the book had rearranged itself between readings, editing out old material and introducing new. It has a density and richness unmatched in most other works, the pages overflowing with humor and sadness, victories and defeats, insanity, murder, and sex.
This is a book that defies easy categorization and summary. It begins in a mythic time when the things of world were still without names, and rapidly moves through to the modern era of science and industrialization. It follows multiple generations of the Buendía family, and with them the rise and fall of the fictional city of Maconda and the history of Colombia. More than that (as if that’s not much at all) it’s a book about personal histories, the lies we tell ourselves and each other.
García Márquez evokes a world that is fantastic and mysterious while still very grounded in the passions of everyday life. It is almost as if the book was written from the straightforward perspective of a child: common-place objects and events take on magical qualities, and the strange becomes perfectly ordinary. Fact and fiction intermingle as the members of the Buendía family give shape to their lives.
This is a masterpiece of literature, and with it García Márquez captures a universal humanity with finely-wrought detail and poetic grace.
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