Book Review by Roy E. Perry: “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez

One Hundred Years

Editor’s Note: Roy E. Perry reviewed books for “The Tennessean” and “Nashville Banner” for more than thirty years. “Underground Nashville” is always proud to post Mr. Perry’s latest review.

Critics have lauded One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), by Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014) as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. A prime example of “magical realism,” the novel chronicles the rise and fall of the Buendía family and the decline and decay of their (fictional) town of Macondo, situated in an unnamed Latin American banana republic bordering the Caribbean.

If read patiently and attentively, One Hundred Years of Solitude is well worth your time. However, I have two problems with this novel. First, the proliferation of characters and the similarity of their names is confusing. We meet José Arcadio Buendía, Colonel Aureliano Buendía, José Arcadio, Aureliano José, Arcadio, Aureliano Segundo, José Arcadio Segundo, a (third) José Arcadio, and two more Aurelianos. A genealogical chart at the beginning of the novel helps mitigate the confusion.

Second, I am not a fan of “magical realism” (a genre in which strange, uncanny things happen to otherwise normal people). For example, Remedios the Beauty ascended, body and soul, into heaven; it rained for four years, eleven months, and two days . . . and did not rain again for ten years. Thirty-two civil wars between Conservatives and Liberals are fought; the matriarch of the family lived to be more than 145 years old; and numerous ghosts and apparitions flit in and out of the story. The novel would have been more believable if Mr. Marquez had stayed with realism and avoided the “magic.”

The novel depicts the dark side of capitalism. A banana company breaks its promises, cheating its workers out of money and benefits. When protesters march into town, the army hems in and machine-guns 3,000 workers, carrying off their bodies on a train and throwing them into the sea. However, one searches in vain in official documents and school textbooks for mention of this horrific event; revisionist historians employed by the republic have erased all mention of the massacre, as if it had never occurred.

Marquez writes not only of “the madness of politics” but also of “the madness of love.” His novel steams with passionate, even desperate and often futile, erotic encounters. The author writes, “He ended up recommending to all of them that wherever they might be they always remember that the past was a lie, that memory has no return, that every spring gone by could never be recovered, and that the wildest and most tenacious love was an ephemeral truth in the end.”

Perhaps you should disregard my criticisms of One Hundred Years of Solitude, for it is indeed a powerful and memorable work of art. Read it for yourself and make your own judgment of its merits.  


Gabriel García Marquez was born in Aracataca, Colombia, in 1927; he lived mostly in Mexico and Europe. He attended the University of Botogá and later worked as a reporter and film critic for the Colombian newspaper El Espectador. His books—including Love in the Time of Cholera, The Autumn of the Patriarch, and Chronicle of a Death Foretold—have been published in many languages and are widely praised.

For other book reviews by Roy E. Perry, please visit:

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter,” both now available at and Dave is also a freelance book editor, publicist, seminar and workshop leader, journalist, and advertising / marketing / public relations writer. ************

Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville by Dave Carew—which was praised by The Tennessean as “beautiful, haunting, powerful”—is now available in an all-new paperback edition. For more information, please visit:


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Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective, offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.” Dave Carew



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