“My most important problem was destroying the lines of demarcation that separates what seems real from what seems fantastic” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Bravely the BrownBaggers book group carried on our discussion of Gabriel García Márquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude.”  We all agreed that it was a dense novel with repetition being one of the main stylistic features.  Family names and events are repeated over and over.  Much like Latin American history there is war upon war, government upon government.

It was difficult to follow the multiple characters in the book with the repetition of names.  We would advise you to have a list of characters close at hand as you read.  One such list can be found at this website: http://www.gradesaver.com/one-hundred-years-of-solitude/study-guide/character-list/.  With repetition of names we also see the repetition of human attributes and deeds done.

Some of the group found humor throughout “Solitude” – enough to make a reader laugh out loud.  Examples cited were a levitating priest and a floating family member.  Children born with pig’s tails and 72 chamber pots can be included here. Gene H. Bell-Villada on OprahReads website says about this novel: “To read it entirely seriously is to miss out on a great deal of the pleasure to be had.”

Gabo, as García Márquez is affectionately called, utilizes magic realism as he details one family’s life and the politics through this family’s generations.  One of our members felt that the magic realism of Gabo’s novel “Love in the Time of Cholera” far better enhances the political story than it does in “Solitude.”  This member was not impressed with “Solitude,” but “Love in the time of Cholera” is one of his favorite books.

The translation is sterling.  García Márquez said that Gregory Rabassa’s translation was better than the original writing which was obviously difficult to translate, because it dealt with the figurative and symbolism.  My first reading of this book was in Spanish, and I enjoyed the language as it rolled over the events within the book, but I did not remember the humor which could definitely be because I could not grasp the subtleties of another language.  Gabo himself says that he prefers reading a bad Spanish translation to an original language of a book, because he only feels at ease with Spanish.

This is a worthy book.  Most of us would recommend it, but do remember to have your character list right there.  “One Hundred Years of Solitude” is his seminal novel, but he has written other novels and short stories.  Click here to see others.

You may also enjoy reading Isabel Allende’s “House of Spirits” and “Eva Luna” or Laura Esquival’s “Like Water for Chocolate: a Novel in Monthly Installments, with Recipes, Romances and Home Remedies.”  All of these books feature magic realism so be prepared to take that ride.

~ Reluctant Blogger


  1. We read “100 years” when I had the book group at the women’s prison in Fluvanna. Magic realism was definitely not on their “read more” list nor was Garcia Marquez after the experience. I’m glad to know that it wasn’t just the composition of my book group.

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