Thursday, February 04, 2010

Ilan Stavans - Gabriel García Márquez: The Early Years

Gabriel Garcia Marquez: The Early YearsKevin O’Kelly reviews Ilan Stavans' Gabriel García Márquez: The Early Years.
In 1965, Gabriel García Márquez was an obscure writer drowning in debt, a law school dropout living hand-to-mouth as a journalist and screenwriter. His early novels had garnered solid reviews but little money. Two years later he was the author of “One Hundred Years of Solitude,’’ a novel that achieved immediate commercial and critical success in the Spanish-speaking world. When “Solitude’’ appeared in English in 1970, critics in the United States invoked the author’s name in the same breath as Faulkner and Günter Grass.

The transformation of a young man from Colombia’s coastal provinces into one of the greatest writers of our time is the subject of “Gabriel García Márquez: The Early Years.’’ Ilan Stavans, a prominent scholar of Latin American culture at Amherst College, is an able guide to the world that shaped García Márquez, from the small towns where he spent his early years (he was born in 1928) to the often violent politics that played a pivotal role in his family’s history and radicalized his political consciousness. Stavans also recounts the family stories that provided the novelist with much of the raw material for his fiction, such as his grandparents’ disapproval of his father as a suitor and his parents’ subsequent secret courtship that was recast in “Love in the Time of Cholera.’’
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