In case you’ve been marooned on a desert island…

Before you read any further, Blank Slate Press would like to thank Anna, our University of Chicago summer intern, for the work she’s done and the enthusiasm she brought to our new adventure in the future of publishing. We hope you’ll hear more from her in the future. And now, before she leaves us to return to the cold (or at least not desperately hot) north, her book review:

100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

This book review is probably redundant considering the widespread critical acclaim that literary master Gabriel García Márquez is in the habit of receiving. I have decided to write it anyways, though, in the off-chance that someone who has spent the last 50 years on a barren island in the middle of the vast Pacific has recently returned to civilization, the internet, and the Blank Slate Press blog. Such a person would have missed the 1967 publication, and consequent general adulation, of the book that I consider to be among the greatest ever written: Cien años de soledad, or 100 Years of Solitude.

The epic multi-generational story of the Buendía family is not one that I could properly analyze in a short book review, or even in a short book. Márquez weaves a tale that stretches across the lives of a large number of spectacularly unique characters, from the devastatingly beautiful and unsettlingly simple-minded Remedios, to the enigmatic, adopted Rebeca, prone to eating dirt and plaster, to the 17 brothers all named Aureliano and all destined to be gruesomely assassinated. Yet the truly amazing quality about Márquez’s writing is his ability to take this multitude of distinct stories, each filled with its own victories and heartbreaks, and create from them the undeniable feeling of a cohesive whole: a chronicle of love, anger, beauty, and solitude that transcends and defies the very concept of time.

This feeling that Márquez’s writing creates – that of an inexplicable link somehow crafted out of joy, love, suffering, loyalty, and above all, solitude, which unites the different generations of the Buendía family – is perfectly suited for the delicate magical realism which appears throughout the novel. Whether the surreal images that Márquez subtly weaves into his everyday occurrences (like the yellow butterflies that surround young Meme, filling the air around her with a fluttering brightness more thickly the closer she is to her lover) are responsible for the feeling of timeless unity or whether they merely complement it, I cannot say. What I do know, however, is that in 100 Years of Solitude Márquez has created a work whose richness of language is paralleled only by the richness of its characters. As I read about each of the members of the Buendía family, I feel along with them the painful, beautiful, aching love and desolation that marks them as a family “condemned to one hundred years of solitude.” It is an experience, and a novel, unlike any other I have had the privilege to read.

-Anna Tripodi, intern

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