Monday, June 20, 2011

One Hundred Years of Solitude

One of my 2011 goals is to read four of the most successful family saga novels out there. I really want to understand this genre that I love and hope to make a career out of.

I started with One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Marquez was a Nobel Prize winner, and this novel is considered his masterpiece.

Here is the review the New York Times Book Review gave his novel back in the 1950s: "One Hundred Years of Solitude is the first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race... Mr. Garcia Marquez has done nothing less than to create in the reader a sense of all that is profound, meaningful, and meaningless in life."

Can you imagine? How would that feel to have your writing compared to the Bible? "Required reading for the entire human race?" Come on!

The novel follows the Buendia family and their founding of the fictional town of Macondo. There are five generations in the story, and almost all of the characters share five names: Jose Arcadio and Aureliano for boys, and Ursula, Remedios and Amaranta for girls.

This book is a doozie of a read. We're talking 400 plus pages of very small print and very, very little dialogue. Sentences stretch on and on (the longest one I came across was close to three pages long!) Sometimes the wording was so confusing I had to re-read a section several times to understand what in the world he was talking about. And for Garcia Marquez, themes seem to be far more important than plot.

With all that being said, I loved One Hundred Years of Solitude. I loved the beautiful language he used. I loved following this family through their triumphs (which came few and far between) and their struggles (which seemed very frequent). I loved Garcia Marquez's theme that nothing much new ever happens--the world and families are cyclical and the same things happen over and over again.

Another aspect I loved was the author's "magical realism." The reader could get quite far into the book thinking all the events were realistic and could actually occur; however, then the author throws in fantastical events such as a character's being carried away into the sky by her laundry, and the reader starts to think, huh? How could that happen? Eventually such odd situations as the family's patriarch being tied to a tree for like twenty years and women living well beyond a hundred years grow more and more frequent in the book.

I read the Goodreads reviews on this book and many people hated it despite it being one of the top sellers of all time. Readers claimed it made them "feel high" or wonder what in the heck was happening. There were definitely moments like that, and I admit I got lost in the countless wars that one of the Aurelianos encounters. There were also way more instances of incest than I was comfortable with.

Overall though, the Buendia family sucked me in.

And I realized family saga is still my favorite genre.

The other famous family sagas I plan to read this year are Fall On Your Knees, Cutting for Stone and The Thorn Birds.

Have you read One Hundred Years of Solitude or any of the other family sagas I've listed? What did you think of these books or the genre in general?


Jessica R. Patch said...

The Thorn Birds was excellent. I love family sagas as well. :)

Sari said...

I've read The Thorn Birds about 30 years ago and I loved it. Family Sagas and Historical fiction are my favorite genres.

Kaylee Baldwin said...

I haven't read any of these, but Cutting for Stone is on my tbr list. I've never really looked into the family saga genre before. Would Gone with the wind be included in that genre? Or Kristen Hannah's Firefly Lane? They both span many years, but both only focus on one or two characters mainyl.

Richard said...

Ive been reading some stories about the civil war lately, very interesting time in American history...............Also please drop by my blog to a brand new post today from old order Mennonite Jean. And look for Jeans first ever recipe (whoopie pies) on Amish Stories this Wednesday. Richard