Books by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

MEMORIES OF MY MELANCHOLY WHORES by Gabriel García Márquez
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 25, 2005

"You'll want to know what the 14-year-old, naked next to the 90-year-old man, sees when she looks at herself, but alas, it's never revealed."
An erotic novella from Colombian Nobel laureate García Márquez (Living to Tell the Tale, 2003, etc.), his first fiction in ten years. Read full book review >
NEWS OF A KIDNAPPING by Gabriel García Márquez
HISTORY
Released: June 4, 1997

In the same straightforward tone with which he relates the fabulous events of his fiction, Colombia's premier novelist presents the chillingly extraordinary events surrounding the 1992 abduction of ten prominent people by the Medellin drug cartel. For anyone who has doubts about where the real war on drugs is taking place, this is a vivid testimony to what Garcia Marquez calls "the biblical holocaust that has been consuming Colombia for more than twenty years." It is a tale featuring real-life heroes, almost comically absurd events, endless terror, and a satisfyingly dramatic ending. Controlling the events is a man we never meet until the very end—the all-powerful and cunningly elusive Pablo Escobar, the head of the Medellin cartel. Fearing extradition to the US and death at the hands of his competitors more than he fears the Colombian government, he takes the hostages (primarily journalists) as pawns as he negotiates his surrender to the security of a specially prepared Colombian prison. Among the extraordinary men negotiating for the hostages' freedom are Alberto Villamizar, a politician who was himself once an assassination target of Escobar's and whose wife, Maruja, and sister, Beatriz, are both hostages; and the elderly Father Garcia Herreros, known for his daily television homilies and celebrity-studded fundraisers. But at the core of the narrative are the daily terrors and tribulations of the hostages, scattered in groups of two and three in different hiding places under the constant watch of Escobar's young, nihilistic soldiers. Newspaper editor Pacho Santos is chained to his bed at night. Maruja, Beatriz, and the doomed Marina Montoya must share a tiny, dark, airless room with four guards, their trips to the bathroom strictly regulated, their only distraction the television, through which Maruja's daughter, with her own TV show, sends coded messages of support and hope. Garcia Marquez's consummate rendering of this hostage-taking looms as the symbol of an entire country held hostage to invisible yet violently ever-present drug lords. Read full book review >
OF LOVE AND OTHER DEMONS by Gabriel García Márquez
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 18, 1995

A bittersweet-comic version of all living things anchors this enchanting short novel by the acknowledged master of magical realism (Strange Pilgrims, 1993, etc.). In fiat, reportorial tones (perfectly captured in Grossman's eloquent translation), the 1982 Nobel — winner spins an extravagant tale of ethnic contrast and cosmic dislocation, set in a Colombian-like South American backwater near the Caribbean Sea. When 12-year-old Sierva Maria, only child of a desiccated marquis and his dissolute lowborn wife, is bitten by a rabid dog, the girl's mendacious disposition and unsophisticated demeanor are interpreted as signs of demonic possession. Held captive in an austere convent, she is denounced by a bigoted abbess, befriended by a kindly murderer, and adored from afar, then more intimately, by Father Cayetano Delaura, the diocese librarian whose surprised discovery of passion both complicates and transfigures his bookish, selfless existence. The tale of their thwarted love resonates down the years as a union of opposites that's all but anathema to a culture whose prosperity is built on a thriving slave trade and whose privileged classes live in fear that their servants will rise up and murder them in their beds. Garcia Marquez mockingly breaks down conventional barriers between not just masters and servants, but also whites and blacks, clergy and laity, humans and animals. This is a world in which bats drain the blood of sleeping humans, a 100-year-old horse is buried in holy ground, and a learned physician imperturbably straddles the metaphysical boundaries separating life and death. In a society distinguished by "so much mixing of bloodlines," it is implied, people and things blend into and become one another — despite the repressive exertions of wealth and power, and the delusory authority of a religion that sees demons in every instance of dissent or independence. Written with masterly economy, brimming with colorful episodes and vividly sketched characters: a haunting, cautionary tale that ranks among the author's best. Read full book review >
STRANGE PILGRIMS by Gabriel García Márquez
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 21, 1993

Of the entire generation of Latin-American Boom writers, Garcia Marquez (The General and His Labyrinth, 1990, etc.) has shied away the most from writing about the expatriate experience he and his peers have so determinedly lived for decades. This book of 12 stories redresses that somewhat forced oddness. A lot is slight here, mere sketchery (Garcia Marquez admits in the preface that a number of the tales are reworkings of journalistic pieces or screenplays): "Sleeping Beauty and the Airplane" recounts a transatlantic flight with a beautiful stranger in the next seat, sound asleep and paying the infatuated narrator no mind; "I Sell My Dreams" is mostly an excuse for a portrait of Pablo Neruda; "Tramontania" pays homage to the madness-making wind of the Costa Brava in the form of a Maupassant-ish anecdote (much here, in fact, is reminiscent of Maupassant: little details that bloom into destinies). But included here are also two masterpieces. "Maria dos Prazeres"—the story of an old whore's mistaken premonition of death—is woven with those fluorescent touches that Garcia Marquez is known for (the interior of a car "smelled of refrigerated medicine") and with a leisure of wonder that, happily, never seems strained. The other classic is "The Trail of Your Blood in the Snow"—as acidic a portrait of French inhumanity as satire can accomplish, but also a wizardly capsule of the strangeness all travelers feel and only sometimes can surmount. Garcia Marquez's generosity more than his effect-making is at deepest play in both- -and they do his career great credit. Read full book review >
NONFICTION
Released: Sept. 25, 1990

As the popularly agreed-upon preeminent Latin American storyteller, it is not unexpected that Garcia Marquez would take a turn at telling the epic story of Simon Bolivar, the Great Liberator. What is unexpected, somewhat, is that he would novelize the biography so slackly, dully, obligatorily: the book seems like a homework assignment for a Nobelist. We get a Bolivar here at his last: renouncing the presidency of Colombia, leaving Bogota to journey along the Magdalena River, all the while clearly dying and putting his (and a continent's) final business in order. Garcia Marquez flashes back silkily to past loves and treacheries and alliances and personal suavities, but it's all done as though behind a screen: even Bolivar's prodigious erotic life—which threatens to burst through into the sort of high-relief gorgeousness that Marquezian prose can be at its best—remains inert and spalled. Bolivar comes across as a man of dignity and farsightedness, but more tangled inside the history he developed than defined by it. And the book seems to feel it must responsibly, officially register certain historical landmarks every so often, in dull prose: "His officers may never have imagined to what extent this distribution of benefits joined their destinies. For better or worse, all of them would share the rest of their lives. . .fighting at the side of Commander Pedro Carujo in a military adventure intended to achieve the Bolivarist idea of integration." Dutiful but dry as dust. Read full book review >
LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA by Gabriel García Márquez
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 29, 1988

Almost two decades after One Hundred Years of Solitude, Garcia Marquez has delivered another long, woolly, at times wonderful but consistently elective novel. Elective in the sense that, like One Hundred Years (a book more grazed-in than fully read, the candid reader will admit), you can loll in the lushness and the brilliant details and the generous metaphors, but getting up and walking out of Garcia Marquez's imagination is fairly easy to do: it's a book that doesn't hold on to you. But maybe here it doesn't mean to—it's a story of a decades-long love triangle that bridges the turn of the century in a Caribbean sea-coast town. The principals are a merchant-trader, Florentino Ariza; the sheltered and beautiful Fermina Daza; and the starchy physician who marries her, Dr. Juvenal Urbino de la Calle. Ariza is a born lover, patient beyond belief, in love with love (platonic and sexual), an eroticist of impressive concentration—and his conquests and griefs at least keep the book moving chronologically. Which it only rarely seems to want to do; Garcia Marquez's talent is for peripherals: tastes, comments, colors, sounds, all flocking spectacularly inside any given paragraph like iron filings. The style everywhere is rich and good-humored, but, except for isolated scenes (such as the doctor's confession to his wife of a late-in-life indiscretion), it focuses on the paragraph more than on the chapter. And little finally distinguishes these gorgeous paragraphs—story-turns never undermine them, and you suspect they're there to be admired more than felt. Still, there's almost nothing here (thankfully) of Garcia Marquez's cloying political ironies dressed up as mysteries and cosmogonies; and the stylish sexual histories are fun and will be popular. Broad and brilliant as it is, though, there's an awful lot about a little here—a candy-box of a novel: more paper slots and creamy centers than something hard to bite down on. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: June 1, 1987

In this slim yet fascinating foray into the nature of self-identity, Nobel Prize winner Garcia Marquez adopts the voice and tells the real-life tale of a banished film director who returned incognito to his native Chile to film life under the repressive Pinochet regime. Exiled from Chile in 1974 for his allegiance to the Marxist ideals of murdered Chilean President Allende, Littin, director of the esteemed El Chacal de Nahualtoro, sneaked into Chile in early 1985 disguised as a Uruguayan businessman. There, directing three legitimate European film crews as well as six crews from the Chilean resistance, he penetrated as far as Pinochet's private office. "To pin a great long donkey's tail on Pinochet" was, in large part, Littin's aim in this dangerous venture, but Garcia Marquez's rendering of the story, an elegant editing of 18 hours of talk between writer and filmmaker, focuses more on the disorientation of adopting a new identity, and on Littin's narrow escapes from detection, than on the political or moral aspects of the director's feat. Littin's transformation is radical: not only body changes such as tweezed eyebrows and scalp, weight loss, and glasses, but a major shift in behavior as well: "I had to learn to laugh differently, to walk slowly, and to use my hands for emphasis when I spoke." But as he travels through Chile meeting old family and pals who fail to recognize him—including his own mother!—he suffers increasingly under his role, at times endangering his mission through lapses or willful revolt. So with the police catching on, only hours behind him, it's with great relief that a confused Littin at last boards a plane to Mexico, leaving behind the weight of another's self. Minor Garcia Marquez, but still superbly crafted and worth exploring. Read full book review >
THE STORY OF A SHIPWRECKED SAILOR by Gabriel García Márquez
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: April 25, 1986

A master of fiction turns to non-fiction for this narrative of a sailor who was shipwrecked for 10 days on the Caribbean before being washed ashore in his native Colombia, half-dead. Garcia Marquez, the Nobel Laureate famed for his novels, actually wrote this short essay as a series of newspaper articles over 30 years ago in Bogota. Writing in the voice of the sailor, Luis Alejandro Velasco, the author narrates how Velasco had set sail from Mobile, Alabama, in a ship laden with contraband goods. Struck by an ominous storm, Velasco and four of his mates were pitched into the sea, where Velasco watched all of them drown in turn before he miraculously spotted one of the ship's life rafts floating on the turbulent sea towards him. Himself nearly drowning, Velasco managed one last Herculean effort to reach the raft. Therein begins his harrowing tale of fighting off daily rounds of hunger, thirst, blazing sun, and sharks as he drifts aimlessly, yet measurably, toward Colombia. Though near death upon his salvation on a deserted beach, Velasco suddenly finds himself a hero to the peasants who discover him, and he spends some time thereafter trying to peddle his story for money. Garcia Marquez spent 120 hours interviewing Velasco (which amounts to over an hour per page); and the result shows in its detail. When the articles first appeared, Garcia Marquez's name was not used (they were signed by Velasco himself). But the story is undeniably Garcia Marquez; there is a fatalism here which fits neatly into the normal scheme of his great fiction: at no time does Velasco ever really interfere with his fate or grasp any opportunity to transcend his situation. Rather, he drifts and Fate decrees that his direction is toward survival. A tailor-made tale for the author—himself a drifter from his native land—and one that gives great insight into his early years as a writer. To be read for that reason alone. Read full book review >
COLLECTED STORIES by Gabriel García Márquez
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 31, 1984

Twenty-six tales by the 1982 Nobel Prize Winner, rearranged in roughly chronological order of writing. From the 1968 collection No One Writes to the Colonel come stories of the town of Macondo—about the much-delayed funeral of local sovereign Big Mamma, a dentist's revenge on the corrupt Mayor (extraction sans anesthetic), a priest who sees the Devil, a thief who robs the pool hall of its billiard balls. But the collection's standout—its title novella—is not included here. Likewise, the long title piece from the Leaf Storm collection (1972)—also about a Colonel—is omitted; but it does offer "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World" and other beguiling fantasies. And, from 1978's Innocent Erendira And Other Stories comes an uneven mix of mystical fable and diffuse surrealism (some pieces dating, before English translation, from the 1940s or '50s). Much that's brilliant, some that's merely strange and fragmentary, and almost all enhanced by the translations of Gregory Rabassa and S. J. Bernstein. Read full book review >
CHRONICLE OF A DEATH FORETOLD by Gabriel García Márquez
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 15, 1983

In this new novella by the Nobel Prize-winner, a Colombian-village murder 20 years in the past is raked over, brooded upon, made into a parable: how an Arab living in the town was assassinated by the loutish twin Vicario brothers when their sister, a new bride, was rejected by her bridegroom—who discovered the girl's unchastity. Cast off, beaten, grilled, the girl eventually revealed the name of her corrupter—Santiago Nassar. And, though no one really believed her (Nassar was the least likely villain), the Arab was indeed killed: the drunken brothers broadcasted their intentions casually; they went so far as to sharpen their murder weapons—old pig-sticking knives—in the town market; and the town, universal witness to the intention, reacted with epic ambivalence—sure, at first, that such an injustice couldn't occur, yet also resigned to its inevitability. As in In Evil Hour (1979) and other works, then, what Garcia Marquez offers here is an orchestration of grim social realities—an awareness that seems vague at first, then coheres into a solid, pessimistic vision. But, while In Evil Hour threaded the message with wit, fanciful imagination, and storytelling flair (the traits which have made Garcia Marquez popular as well as honored), this new book seems crammed, airless, thinly diagrammatic. The theme of historical imperative comes across in a didactic, mechanistic fashion: "He never thought it legitimate," G-M says of one character, ironically, "that life should make use of so many coincidences forbidden literature, so there should be the untramelled fulfillment of a death so clearly foretold." (Also, the novella's structural lines are uncomfortably close to those of Robert Pinget's Libera Me Domine.) So, while the recent Nobel publicity will no doubt generate added interest, this is minor, lesser Garcia Marquez: characteristic themes illustrated without the often-characteristic charm and dazzle. Read full book review >
IN EVIL HOUR by Gabriel García Márquez
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 17, 1979

First published in Spain in 1968—so a forebear of One Hundred Years of Solitude, G-M's benchmark—and set also in a small jungle town, this short friendly novel weaves much less exaggerated fantasy than OHYS, but shares the same calm yet gay prose and morose humor. "Lampoons" have begun springing up on walls around town at night, misspelled gossip sheets that "say what everybody knows, which is almost always sure to be the truth." Not that anyone ever really sees them; they're ripped down too fast. But each poor soul is nervously afraid that the next one will be about him or her. Sailing imperturbably through the uproar are the local priest, the local doctor and dentist (a leader of the clandestine opposition to the corrupt regime of the military mayor), and his less-than-excellency himself. Eventually the story sharpens to a political point about corruption, but it's all done with genial exactitude; "Don't be surprised," one character reassures another, "all of this is life." Not major work but—again gloriously served by a fine Gregory Rabassa translation ("While the doctor was studying the dial, the curate examined the room with that boobish curiosity that consulting rooms tend to inspire")—a pleasing glimpse of a fanciful, vivid imagination at its most unforbidding. Read full book review >
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 28, 1978

The title novella and two stories are fairly recent; the rest, nine short pieces, date from the Fifties, when Garcia Marquez had not yet hit the stride of his famous fabulism and was working instead in a very French, very surrealist style, minutely and morbidly conscious of the deteriorating human body. These quivery pieces do, however, have some impact as a group—pointing up G-M's obsession with the child's question: Where do the dead go to? The newer work is far richer. "A Sea of Lost Time," best by far, offers a dazzling speculation. A poor seaside South American town becomes subject to "a compact fragrance that left no chink for any other odor of the past. . . . By dawn the smell was so pure that it was a pity even to breathe it." After an American philanthropist comes to town, bringing first boom then bust, the starving townspeople take to the sea in search of food; they go on heroic and impossibly long underwater swims, during which they encounter all the world's dead, floating peacefully—face up—at different depths. Luscious image clambers over luscious image in this story; it's tapestry-like. The title story is more in the One Hundred Years of Solitude manner—a girl's life-long prostitution and her mythical emancipation—and Garcia Marquez's many fans will love the wild leaps and strange qualities; to us they seemed slightly forced. But the touch is wholly characteristic: blood is "oily. . . shiny and green, like mint honey." A man shoots into clouds with a rifle to get it to rain. Poison comes in a birthday cream pie. Lovesick people can't tolerate bread. Ah. . . . Read full book review >
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 3, 1976

When first seen at his second death, the solitary despot who has lived for a conjectural 107 to 232 years, lies in his dungheap "house of castaways," vultures pecking at his body while a cow appears on the balcony where he delivered his pronunciamentos. His "autumn" lasted a long time after his first death—that of his lookalike—and he became a "sunset old man" anxious to leave the world of untruth and brutality he had created. Created, to be sure, with the help of foreign powers—Marines are stationed in the harbor. Cut down in size or years, he might remind you of real Caribbean lookalikes—perhaps Papa Doc or Trujillo. But then Garcia Marquez' patriarch is mythical, having sired 5000 children and grown a third set of teeth at the age of 150. Story follows story of his regime, a "stew of destruction," and of those closest to him: his favorite, the General, who ended up on a silver tray stuffed with pine nuts and herbs; or his mother mourned until his own dying—that innocent peasant mother who painted bird pictures, orioles; or his only spouse, Leticia, the novice he kidnapped from a convent and imported in a crate marked "fragile. . . this side up." Leticia educated and refined him and was destroyed, with their son, by killer dogs. The vertigo of images and scenes matches the momentum of those sentences, those ever-ongoing sentences, pages at a clip, which suggest an eternity of days and years. Read it as a magnification of fable, or as violent grand guignol, or as political allegory of a world which defies and stops time, much as the patriarch attempted to; read it as a canticle to the "miseries of glory" and mortality, remembering that "the most feared enemy is within oneself"; read it as a dazzling work of imaginative conjure; read it. . . . Read full book review >
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 23, 1971

Garcia Marquez returns to stir the dust of Macondo, his personal Caribbean fiefdom, which God and the banana company have apparently "declared unnecessary and thrown into a corner." In the long title story the rickety, crotchety Colonel rises like Antigone to bury the town's nemesis, a mysterious French doctor-hermit who for some reason fed on grass and refused to treat the wounded in an obscure civil fracas. Tantalizing questions are planted in three alternating narratives (the Colonel has dragged in his daughter and grandson, for safety in numbers); but while the reader waits for clues to knit and the crunch to come, the story unravels in lost threads, irrelevancies and ritual farce. So it goes in Macondo, and elsewhere with sharper focus in two alleged fantasies for children — wry parables for adults — about equally torpid villages and their peculiar guests: one "the handsomest drowned man in the world," and the other either a decrepit, incontinent angel or an old Norwegian seaman with wings. They're received without any great flurry, but every unsettled mote has a strange luminous familiarity. The author's imagination, as always, is a closetful of wonders, and Gregory Rabassa's translation, as before, is virtually invisible. Read full book review >
ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE by Gabriel García Márquez
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 25, 1969

"Those who pass time with the Señor will find this a luxuriant, splendid and spirited conception."
Those (guessably not the general reader) who do not find the labyrinthine configurations of Señor Garcia-Marquez's mighty myth impregnable, and at times interminable, will be rewarded by this story of one hundred years and six generations in the peaceful, primal and ageless world of Macondo. Read full book review >
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 9, 1968

One of the characters in this collection, which includes a novella and eight short stories, complains that. "To the Europeans, South America is a man with a mustache, a guitar and a gun." The author, an expatriate Colombian who has lived mainly in Mexico and Europe, doesn't do much to dispel that myth but he does manage to present the stereotypical figures of backwater life everywhere in a way that is touching, amusing, and in the title story, memorable. With just the right degree of detachment the 75-year-old Colonel is portrayed as a figure of both comedy and pathos as he waits for the veteran's pension which will never arrive, meanwhile sustaining himself and his asthmatic wife on the hoped-for riches which will be theirs when their fighting cock proves itself in the ring. The characters of the stories, the inhabitants of the town of Macondo include Big Mamma, the absolute sovereign of the area whose much-delayed funeral is attended by the Supreme Pontiff; a dentist without a degree who takes revenge on the town's corrupt Mayor by extracting his tooth without anesthetic; a thief who steals the pool hall's billiard balls, thereby disrupting the town's social life; and the ancient priest whose Masses no one attends since he claimed to have seen the Devil. Garcia Marquez' style is direct and matter-of-fact; in attitude, he accepts these characters with the same inevitability as they accept the heat and the rain. Read full book review >