Thursday, January 12, 2006

Living to Tell the Tale by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

A review of Gabriel García Márquez's Vivir para contarla

Since the death of Jorge Luis Borges in 1986, the Spanish-speaking world's most celebrated living writer has been the Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez. "Gabo", as he's almost universally known, found an international readership in the late 1960s, when One Hundred Years of Solitude consolidated "el boom" of Anglophone interest in Latin American fiction.

Since then, Garcia Marquez has been venerated around the world, and by the time he won the Nobel Prize in 1982, his influence on other writers was so pervasive that "magical realism" eventually became a term of abuse. As he has often said, however, the distinctive manner of his best-known books is as rooted in his famously colourful upbringing as it is in his reading of Kafka, Faulkner and Joyce.

You can't fake this stuff, in other words - although this didn't stop an enormous number of writers from trying to do just that in the 1980s. As a result, one of the main points of interest for English-language readers of his new memoir is the extent to which it presents el maestro's novels as springing more or less directly from his family history.

Vivir para contarla - translated by Edith Grossman as Living to Tell the Tale - was a worldwide best-seller when it was published in Spanish last year. The first volume of a projected trilogy, it tells the story of the author's early life until 1955, when death threats from conservative readers of his journalism encouraged him to accept an extended assignment in Europe.

You can find the full review here.

Buy Living to Tell the Tale at

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