Everyone was shocked when I said I was moving to Colombia, away on another continent. Everyone except for my literature-loving friends: “Perfect,” they said, “An excuse to read ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’”.
Written by Gabriel García Márquez, Colombia’s most famous novelist, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” has been described as “the greatest novel in any language of the last fifty years”. The book follows the Buendía family who live in the town of Macondo. The story continues one hundred years as we meet new generations of the Buendía family, and the people around them. The Buendía family’s own story progresses but at the same time Macondo modernises and changes, for better or for worse.
I had read one of García’s books before. At the time I thought it was boring and very weird. The storyline was difficult to follow, and because it was for a class at school, I had to read it in Spanish, a language which I could not really understand then. This bad experience made me reluctant to try “One Hundred Years of Solitude” but, after speaking to so many Colombians, I could not live here and not read it.
As it turned out, the book was interesting and I really enjoyed it. It is difficult to follow, however. In Colombia it is not uncommon to find families where the father and the son, and even the grandson, share the same name. This happens in “One Hundred Years of Solitude”, making the storyline difficult to follow. “José Buendía” kept doing things, but after a couple of chapters, I had no idea which José Buendía was doing what.
The number of characters was also confusing. One member of the Buendía family had seventeen sons (but, strangely, no daughters?). Various people often come and go from the story, and they all seem so incredibly old. One character was 150 years old – she disappeared from the story every so often, and I thought that she had died.
For all this complaining, I must repeat that I did enjoy the book. The story is complicated and, as time passes in Macondo, you must keep track very carefully, but it is a very calmly paced story. This, for me, is not a book to read on the beach on holiday, but in a comfortable armchair, with a hot cup of tea and a packet of biscuits.
Have you read "One Hundred Years of Solitude"? Would you like to read it?