Book Review: One Hundred Years of Solitude

Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude is a novel that Salman Rushdie called ‘the greatest novel in any language of the last fifty years’. The novel follows the life of the Buendia family in the small town of Macondo through one hundred years.

The story is filled with shocking revelations containing both science fiction and biographical-like elements. Marquez allows the reader to forget the science fictional features such as the flying carpet by presenting it in a manner that gives the reader no choice but to believe that it is in fact true. The Buendia family are all given variations of the same name, however, Marquez depicts the characters in such a distinct and unique way that the reader is always aware of whether the writer is referring to Jose Acardio Buendia or his son Jose Acardio or his son Acardio or his uncle Aureliano Buendia or his son Aureliano Jose or the other 17 Aurelianos who are also the sons of Aureliano Buendia.

The unexpected aspects of the plot makes it almost impossible for the reader to put the book down. The novel, although seemingly uninteresting at first glance, as it is a story of a small town, changes and transforms the town into a place one barely recognises in the end. It forces the reader to familiarise themselves with the landmarks and neighbours as if they were their own city landmarks and neighbours, their own streets and shops.

The structure of the novel is simplistic as it follows a chapter by chapter format. However, the new characters are not often introduced at the start of a new chapter but instead the readers are met with another Aureliano halfway through a story about a different Aureliano. Similarly, each generation is not given its own section, but as with the chapters, just flow through the book.

After first reading this book, I did not know what to make of it, but now, after much reflection, I can truly see why Rushdie called it “the greatest novel in any language in the last fifty years”. Although I do not agree with Rushdie’s statement, I do understand why he made the statement as the novel provides evidence of its greatness. I truly believe that when Christian Grey uttered the most cringe worthy lines in both literary and cinematic history, “I’m fifty shades of fucked up”, he was in fact referring to his emotional state after reading this book. Due to this, I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars.

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