Find the insight you've been searching for with your exclusive Oprah's Book Club guide to One Hundred Years of Solitude. Explore deeper into the novel with reading questions, themes, and a detailed look at magical realism. Don't miss inside information on Gabo, and his message of solitude.
About the Book
Read this fascinating work, meet the the Buendías and discover the history of Macondo. Look no further than this comprehensive guide to the novel and get the most out of your reading experience.
Get to Know Gabo
He's a Nobel Prize-winning author. He is a journalist, a mentor, a scriptwriter and a critic. Outspoken, he refuses to write or speak in anything but Spanish. Throughout the world, he is larger than life. He is Gabriel García Márquez.
Gabo's Message of Solitude
It's no coincidence that Gabriel García Márquez uses the words solitude or solitary on nearly every page in One Hundred Years of Solitude. Find out why.
Reading Guidelines and Discussion Questions for Each Section
You've started Gabo's masterpiece...and you love it! Now it's time to understand the book more fully and appreciate it more deeply. Look no further than these chapter explanations and discussion questions.
Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four
Themes of Solitude
The major themes of this novel trickle like a waterfall through One Hundred Years of Solitude, returning again and again to illuminate the Buendías and human nature. Learn more about these concepts.
The question of what is real is at the heart of a genre championed by Gabriel García Márquez—magical realism. How do you read it? Why should you care? Get everything you need to explore this novel.
One Hundred Years of Solitude is a book that took the world by storm. It's a furious, passionate, seething novel filled with hallucinogenic scenery. With his groundbreaking book, Gabriel García Márquez not only established himself as a writer with singular vision, he also established Latin American literature and "magical realism" as forces to be reckoned with. There are many millions of copies in print worldwide, and the readership is so thrilled, the novel has been translated into more than three-dozen languages. Because of the ground he broke with One Hundred Years of Solitude, García Márquez won the 1982 Nobel Prize for literature. The first work in Spanish to become, a U.S. bestseller (it was originally published and widely read in Spanish in 1967) this was, in 1970 the book to read. And read it we did—and more than 30 years later, we still do!
Why You Should Read It
Read One Hundred Years of Solitude because of its passion. It's a wildly passionate book that brings to life mythical and colorful characters. In Macondo, wonderful, magical, fantastical, unreal things happen every day. They swirl on a canvas as unique and foreign as any you have known yet they evoke basic human truths that are as real as every day. And through this fantastic town and its fantastic people, you will come to appreciate the magic of your own life.
It's a book where a lot happens, and what happens will move you. You'll find your blood boils and your stomach flips from all the love, compassion, conflict, heartbreak, beauty, stubbornness, despair, humor, simplicity, complexity, intellect and prophecy. One Hundred Years of Solitude will inspire you to connect with your family, love more deeply and dream bigger and find deeper truths within yourself.
The Road to Macondo
Writing teachers will tell you: Write what you know. Gabriel García Márquez did. The author's journey to create Macondo, the fictional town of One Hundred Years of Solitude, began on Saturday, February 19, 1943. He set out, with his mother, to sell their ancestral house in Aracataca, Colombia. It was the house he had been born in. He arrived in town tired from a long journey. He breathed the rarified air and fell in love all over again. The whole town seemed dead and frozen, filled with ghosts and memories. When he recalls the journey, he says of it, "I could not have imagined this simple two-day trip would be so decisive that the longest and most diligent of lives would not be enough for me to finish recounting it." It took this author nearly twenty years and three other novels (none of them autobiographical) to put it down on paper, but the seeds of One Hundred Years of Solitude were sown on this fateful trip.
García Márquez Takes a Detour
A fan of American writer William Faulkner, García Márquez fashioned his first books after works by Faulkner. He had trouble finding his own voice. Uninspired by the law career his family chose for him, he traveled the world from 1955 to 1960 in search of interesting stories to tell: Many he wrote as journalism.
He located his family in Mexico City in 1960 and for the first time in many years, settled in. His third novel, which had won a literary contest in Colombia, was sent to Spain to be published and the publisher crudely revised it beyond recognition. Heartbroken, García Márquez put down his pen for three long years. At the beginning of 1965, the author's writers' block had become so severe he was telling friends he would never write again. On his way out of Mexico City on vacation with his wife and two young sons, the opening chapter—one of the most powerful in all literature—started forming in his head.
Not one to let inspiration slip by, he turned the car around and asked his wife to take care of their finances for what he thought would be the six months he'd need to finish. Instead, Gabriel García Márquez wrote furiously for eighteen months straight. He toiled for eight hours every day. His novel grew thick and complicated. His character list grew to more than 100—like a Noah's Ark of personality-types with every kind of person he could imagine represented. In the end, he had produced an enduring novel of such stature it secured his reputation as an accomplished author for a lifetime.
And the People Cheer
Before One Hundred Years of Solitude, almost no one had heard of this Colombian author outside of Latin America. In fact, not many people in the Western Hemisphere had read a Spanish book in English translation. García Márquez brought many important things to the world. The politics and passions of Colombians became less foreign, and better understood. His unique blend of magic and reality casts a spell over readers worldwide, indeed launched an entirely new genre of fiction—magical realism—a genre that captures the ethos of his culture. Gabriel García Márquez brought life to the pages. Life that was grimy and sexy, mysterious and complicated, tragic and so big it fills our hearts and minds to overflowing. Gabriel García Márquez wrote a novel for all of us—including you—to savor with every one of your senses and every ounce of your soul.
Finished with the book? Take our quiz!
Printed from Oprah.com on Tuesday, March 11, 2014
© 2014 Harpo Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.