One Hundred Years of Solitude (Cien años de soledad) is a 1967 novel from Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014). And whether you choose to write it as 100 or one hundred, this remains one of the most celebrated novels from the 20th century.
With its sense of magical realism and verve for the passage of time, the multi-generational tale takes a look at the Buendia family in Columbia. After their patriach founds a town, the story follows the family through the trials and tribulations they suffer over the next century.
One Hundred Years of Solitude
In this rather fantastical tale of life, death, chaos, and glory, we have the Buendia family who live in Macondo, the South American jungle (for reference – about 1,000 miles to the left, or something, of London).
Readers follow seven generations of this lot, from the founding patriarch onward. They’re an angry bunch, often bickering mindlessly with each other and suffering all manner of misfortunes as they deal with life.
It’s a tale like many other in history – war, brutality, silly humans behaving silly. It it’s got a real enigmatic nature about it. Major themes such as the repetition of history, absurdity, the human condition, and sandwiches (that’s a joke) are dealt with frequently, and it all makes for a rather compelling read.
Think of it as the book Paolo Coelho’s The Alchemist (which we didn’t rate at all) was aiming for. It was also every bit as successful as Coelho’s novel. Shifting some 30 million copies worldwide, it’s available in some 27 languages.
And although the author also wrote Love in the Time of Cholera, it’s this work that remains as his masterpiece – the magnum opus.
Why Read It?
It’s one of those books you probably should have read by now, but probably haven’t. Along with various other canonical literature such as Crime and Punishment and Nineteen-Eighty Four, it’s a work that people often have on their bookshelf. But never actually read it.
But you should do. One Hundred Years of Solitude is a magnificent novel steeped in a sense of majesty and mysticism, with the ages swelling up around it to help you realise your place in the world.