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Gabriel García Márquez
Aracataca 6 March 1928 • Colombian journalist and novelist

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Isabel Allende, the popular Chilean novelist who achieved world fame with the lyrical family saga The House of the Spirits (1985) has been rather unkindly referred to as ‘Márquez Lite’. Indeed, the Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez is a hard act to follow. Some have been successful, like Ben Okri (The Famished Road) and Salman Rushdie (Midnight's Children).

García Márquez is the flag bearer of magical realism, a movement characterized by the fusion of realism and fantasy. In literature, Franz Kafka was one of the pioneers, and it was his novella Die Verwandlung ('The Metamorphosis') that formed the young journalist García Márquez as a writer in the early fifties.The fact that the Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier, at about the same time, claimed that Latin American reality was suffused with the miraculous (‘lo real maravilloso’) was of secondary consideration.

García Márquez has always resisted the label ‘magical realist’. In his Nobel Prize speech (1982), he emphasized that Latin American reality was even more bizarre than Western readers could imagine. His reproduction of Colombian reality was not all that different from the way in which William Faulkner, whom he greatly admired, had portrayed the American

García Márquez's microcosm, ‘Macondo’, is a scarcely concealed portrait of Aracataca, the village where he grew up as the son of a telegraph operator and a colonel’s daughter. The history of his family and the stories told to him by his grandmother were his chief sources of inspiration. In 1955 he made his debut as a novelist with Leaf Storm, in 1962 he published nine Macondo stories in Big Mama’s Funeral. One Hundred Years of Solitude was published in 1967. The 400-page epic describes the trials and tribulations of the Buendía family and the village founded by forefather José Arcadio in a swampy Latin American delta. In Macondo, the dead walk among the living, people live to be as old as Methuselah, visions and strange phenomena are the order of the day, and in the midst of all this, a tale unfolds of war, revolution and headlong modernization that reads like a grotesque allegory on the Colombian (or rather: Caribbean) history of the nineteenth and twentieth century.

One Hundred Years of Solitude was immediately hailed as the Don Quixote of Spanish-American literature. Yet Marquez has never allowed himself to be crippled by success. Novels like The Autumn of the Patriarch (1975) and Chronicle of a Death Foretold (1981) were brilliant stylistic exercies, and with Love in the Time of Cholera (1985), he proved that he hadn’t succombed to the fate of most Nobel Prize winners, whose creativity runs dry as soon as they’ve got the diploma. Since then, he has published two more novels and a book of fictionalized memoires. Not bad for a man who, in his own words, is still a journalist at heart.

Don Quixote
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, 1605 / 1615
A comic study of delusion and its consequences; Don Quixote, the old gentleman of La Mancha, takes to the road in search of adventure and remains undaunted in the face of repeated disaster.

The Metamorphosis
Franz Kafka, 1915
'published in Kafka's lifetime'
A man awakens up one morning to find himself transformed into an enormous insect.

Absalom, Absalom!
William Faulkner, 1936
Narrated by Quentin Compson, the suicide in The Sound and the Fury, this is the tale of Thomas Sutpen, a poor White who dreams of founding a dynasty. His refusal to accept his wife' s Negro blood initiates a bloody train of events to create a vision of doom of the American South.

Pedro Páramo
Juan Rulfo, 1955
Pedro Paramo - father, overlord, lover and murderer - dominates the landscape of the novel which flows hynotically through dreams, desires and memories.

Jorges Luis Borges, 1935/ 1944 / 1949
This is a collection of Borges's fiction, translated and gathered into a single volume. From his 1935 debut with The Universal History of Iniquity, through the influential collections Ficciones and The Aleph, to his final work from the 1980s, Shakespeare Memory.

The First Forty-Nine Stories
Ernest Hemingway, 1939
Literary journalism or journalistic literature? This anthology includes two stories about East Africa: 'The Snows of Kilimanjaro and 'The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber'.


One Hundred Years of Solitude
This magical realist novel tells the history of the Buendías family, the founders of Macondo, a remote South American settlement. In the world of the novel there is a Spanish galleon beached in the jungle, a flying carpet, and an iguana in a woman's womb.

The Leopard
Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, 1958
A bitter-sweet tale of quiet lives in the small and apparently timeless world of mid-19th-century Sicilian nobility. Through the eyes of his princely protagonist, the author chronicles the details of an aristocratic, pastoral society, torn apart by revolution, death and decay.

The Family Moskat
Isaac Bashevis Singer, 1950
Tells the story of the prosperous Moskat family, Polish Jews living in Warsaw between the dawn of the 20th century and the gloom of 1939.

The Godfather
Mario Puzo, 1969
The Godfather is the Mafia leader Vito Corleone, a benevolent despot who stops at nothing to gain and hold power. Set in Long Island, Hollywood and Sicily this is a story of a feudal society within society which does not hesitate to consolidate its power.

The Kingdom of This World
Alejo Carpentier, 1949
Set in Haiti during the transition to independence, this novel tells of Ti Noel, a leader who draws on African spirituality and wisdom to lead a group of ex-slaves through chaotic times.

Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands
Jorge Amado, 1966
Dona Flor' s husband may have been a gambler and womanizer, but when he dies all she remembers is his lovemaking. A new marriage does not bring the erotic love she longs for. So when her first husband appears naked at the foot of her bed, eager to reclaim his conjugal rights, it is hard to resist.

The House of the Spirits
Isabel Allende, 1985
The saga of the Trueba family, whose passions, struggles and secrets span three generations and a century of violent social change.

Julio Cortázar, 1951
Cortazar' s stories are descriptions of ordinary moments in which something impossible quietly takes place.

Midnight's Children
Salman Rushdie, 1981
Born at the midnight of India's independence, Saleem is 'handcuffed to history' by the coincidence. He is one of 1001 children born that midnight, each of them endowed with an extraordinary talent.

The Master and Margarita
Mikhail Bulgakov, 1967P
The Devil raises hell in Stalinist Moscow.

[De versierde mens]
Harry Mulisch, 1957
Seven stories in which mythology, fantasy, and reality come together.

The Magic Toyshop
Angela Carter, 1967
Melanie walks naked in the midnight garden whereupon omens of disaster swiftly follow, transporting Melanie from rural comfort to London, to the Magic Toyshop.

Leaf Storm
'books about Macondo'
This is a collection of stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, most of which are fables. It includes 'Leaf Storm', a tale about a week-long South American rainstorm, and the story of a tarry angel who crash-lands in a village and is kept in a hencoop.
No One Writes to the Colonel
'books about Macondo'
In a decaying Colombian town the Colonel and his ailing wife are living a hand-to-mouth existence, scraping together the money for food and medicine. The Colonel's hopes for a better future lie with his rooster, which for him, and the whole town, has become a symbol of defiance.
Big Mama's Funeral
'books about Macondo'
Nine (satirical) stories about village life in Macondo.
Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Setting out to reconstruct a murder that took place 27 years earlier, this chronicle moves backwards and forwards in time, through the contradictions of memory and moments lost in time. Its irony gives the book the nuances of a political fable.
Love in the Time of Cholera
A man waits his whole life for his love to be requited.
Memories of My Melancholy Whores
After a lifetime spent in the arms of prostitutes (514 when he loses count at age 50), the unnamed journalist protagonist decides that his gift to himself on his 90th birthday will be a night with an adolescent virgin.
Innocent Erendira
Erendira accidentally burns down her grandmother's house and is forced to pay her back with the money she earns from prostitution. However, it seems Erendira has a more appropriate way of repaying her.
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