It seems a little ridiculous that I should have anything to contribute in discussing this novel. I mean seriously, who even wins a Nobel prize for literature? But I will do my best to persuade you Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude is a read worthy of your modern attentions. Because it is.
To preface, I had heard so much about this book before I ever picked it up that I was wary of its actual brilliance. Even if you don’t know the plot, you’ve probably seen the beautiful cover or heard about the amazing work Marquez has done. If not with this novel then probably Love in the Time of Cholera. Ironically enough, that’s actual what made me want to read this one; my younger brother read Love in the Time of Cholera while we were on a cruise to Honduras (lol @ my life). At a time, he wasn’t a huge reader but he couldn’t stop talking about it. Later I found this book at the library and knew I had to read it next.
The plot follows a family through many generations; there are wars, marriages, inventions, disease, children, and deaths. Gypsies who bring something magical called ice, a beautiful woman who ascends into heaven, and a couple concubines. You see that time passes in a cyclical manner and that people are both extremely complex and extremely simple. You learn about the effects of revolutionary wars, the importance of tradition and the dangers of love. Really, if you were ever looking for a guide to the “human condition,” this would cover all your bases.
As for the style, it’s actually a very accessible read. It isn’t so complex and ridiculous that you got lost, you can follow along if you’re paying attention. The characters are also a joy to follow. Some of them are so like their fathers before them, and some of them are unique. There’s every kind of personality, and some of them evolve so much they become just almost unrecognizable. Until time does it’s whole repeating thing and then some of them revert back to their old selves. *PlOt tWiSt* Or is that who they were the whole time?
This novel also has the perfect amount of magical realism. It was enough real that I related to it, but had enough magic to make it just unattainable. I mentioned the girl ascending into heaven right? The book was set up in such a way that I was like, yeah ok that seems pretty reasonable.
I only have two complaints. First, there are many instances where you will be told that something happens and then the narrative will go back and explain what lead to that event and give details. For me, it was a little confusing and took away some of the excitement of discovery. Maybe that’s a cyclical time thing?
My second complaint is less significant; it’s that all the names are similar, making keeping track of who was who difficult sometimes .
Those are certainly not reasons to skip this book; both complaints are stylistic preferences and don’t take away from the fact that this story is beautifully told and deeply impactful. It shows us that in some ways, humans evolve and in some ways, we totally don’t. So I encourage you to pick it up. It’s long, and sometimes the descriptions are a little bit dry, but it’s also totally worth it.
On an unrelated note I’ve started watching Peaky Blinders and can’t stop. I’m also obsessed with Atlas Genius so if you need me I’m probably immersed in one of those.