One Hundred Years of Solitude
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Reason for reading: I have wanted to read this book for several years. I had heard nothing but good things about it and know that some have called it one of the best books ever written. I also read it for the Book Awards Reading Challenge.
This is the story of the Buendia family and the fictional city of Macondo which was settled by Jose Arcadio Buendia. The novel relates the stories of those who grow up in the first one hundred years of the city. I will not provide much more detail on the plot than that as there is too much to relate.
I was quite disappointed with this book. My expectations were great having wanted to read it for so long and having heard such wonderful things about it. As I wrote earlier, I do not understand why this book is considered to be such a masterpiece. Yet I am not surprised at the critical acclaim it has received. For a novel in which so much happens, nothing really occurs. I suppose I could discuss what it all means, break it down, but I don’t feel strongly enough to do so. That is an indication of how the book failed for me.
This book falls under the category of magical realism, of which I had never heard of until recently. I find that I have read a few books in this category which I enjoyed but this one misses the mark for me. In this book, it feels like magical realism is an excuse to introduce completely random ideas into the narrative. Normally I don’t have a problem with randomness, it can be quite entertaining, but in this book it often felt silly. After reading some passages I wondered to myself if the author had really thought out what he was writing.
I may sound overly harsh, but this probably comes from the high expectations I had. However, one is bound to have high expectations when the book has won the Nobel Prize and been celebrated so much. I must say the book was entertaining at times and I did find myself emotionally involved with the characters at times, although only with those characters at the extremes of behavior. It was at times interesting seeing them grow up, and a bit confusing. I also found the translation to be top notch, probably the best I’ve ever read. So there certainly are some strengths here, but my overall impression is one of disappointment.