Read Around the World: Colombia
It’s April already so that must mean it is time to visit Colombia
Fun facts about Colombia from this website:
- Colombia is surrounded by five countries. On the north of it, the Caribbean Sea is found; Panama is on the northwest, Venezuela is on the east, Ecuador and Peru are on the south, the Pacific Ocean is on the west, and Brazil is on the southeast.
- Different studies and research have found out that humans settled in modern Colombia more than 20,000 years ago,
- Colombia forms part of the megadiverse countries’ list. This is because Colombia is not only rich in its culture, but it is also rich in its ethnicity, flora, fauna, and territory.
- Colombia is the second most biodiverse country in the world, and its territory goes from the Amazon rainforest, to severe highlands, to the Caribbean, to the Pacific Ocean, to some spectacular deserts, and to some volcanos.
- Colombia also likes to break records, so, they have the most endemic species of birds, of orchids, of amphibian species, and butterflies, in the world.
- It was also part of a bigger nation called La Gran Colombia. The Big Colombia was made up of other smaller countries such as Ecuador, Panama, some parts of Central America, the northwestern part of Brazil, parts of Peru, and Venezuela.
- Colombia is named after Christopher Columbus as a way of recognizing and remembering him.
I chose to visit Colombia via One Hundred Years of Solitude (an appropriate title for today’s world) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This was a 3 Star read for me.
While I love later examples of magical realism I was not in love with the “Daddy” of the genre. Don’t get me wrong I appreciated this book and the effort that must go in to finding an entirely new way to tell a story it was just that the story itself felt kind of flat.
We follow several members of the same family over a time span that to my mind cannot be 100 years (too much social change, children growing up, civil war etc) from the founding of the village of Macondo until the death of the last founding member.
The family have a tradition that each new boy will either be given the name of Aureliano or Jose Arcadio or a form of these names. Each of the children will inherit some of the characteristics and memories of their ancestors and to the family these are easy to spot.
As their village grows and changes around them the principles of the founding fathers (that each man has access to the same as everyone else) begin to fall by the wayside. We see the family enlarge their own home, expand their lands, seek to govern and finally start unwinnable wars because they can.
As the story progresses we move backwards and forwards in time; we learn that the dead are never truly gone and that they can still influence the living; we see the destructive force of jealously and several instances of incestual behaviour but with a family tree as confused as this one that is not surprising.
As an alternative history of Colombia I enjoyed seeing how things would unfold and how real events would be explored within the magical realm of the narrative.
My favourite character was the gypsy Melquiades who initially brings the outside world to the village and who never truly leaves them even after he dies in a foreign country.
Other readers visited Colombia in the following ways:
TorieStoriesS from Litsy visited via Fruit of the Drunken Tree which she rated so/so.
Currey from Litsy used The Shape of the Ruins for her visit and rated this a pick. I had read this previously when it was on the Booker International Longlist in 2019 I also enjoyed it. Just for good measure she also read Senor Vivo and the Coca Lord which was another pick.
SprainedBrain from Litsy went with No One Writes to the Colonel another Pick and another book I have previously read and enjoyed.
Did you join us on our journey? If so let us know what you read and what you thought of it.
With only a few days left until May what are your plans for our trip to Chile?
I am under shelter in place restrictions so I thought I would visit Chile with two Isabel Allende books; her classic The House of Spirits, which I have never read, and her newest A Long Petal of the Sea. I have also been considering The Remainder by Alia Zeran which was on the 2019 Man Booker International list.
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Great choices I enjoyed The Remainder