Literature is filled with remarkable storytellers and philosophers who brought fiction and nonfiction to the place it is today. One of such irreplaceable personalities was the author of the Nobel prize winner and best-selling book, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez – a short story writer, playwright, novelist, and journalist.
The Columbian author was born on 6th March 1927 in Aracataca, a small town surrounded by the mountains and the Caribbean Sea in Northern Columbia. He is one of the few notable personalities who are not only known for their stories but also because of their unique narrative approach. Here is a detailed account of his literary journey and his special “Gabriel Garcia Marquez writing style.”
Magic Realism in Fiction:
The ever-famous writing style, Magic realism, was first portrayed in Garcia’s book One Hundred Years of Solitude. The book was a multigenerational saga and portrayed the ups and downs of the Buendia Family. This novel proved to be a landmark in magic realism.
Magic realism is a literary fiction genre that uses fantasy and magic to describe the real world. We can call it a subgenre of realistic fiction, as most Latin authors do. Although the narrative in such writing sticks to realism, fantastical elements like magic, fairies, and monsters are considered normal in these worlds. Such stories blur the line between fiction and nonfiction.
A great example would be Ted Delgrosso’s debut book, Ted’s Tales, which has several short stories that use magic realism to engage the readers. His short stories like The Mermaid and The Secret will make you question if the origins are fictional or based on reality.
Features of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Writing Style – Magic Realism
A Non-Fictional Setting or Worldbuilding
All stories in the magic realism genre occur in a world familiar to the reader. For example, in “Beloved” by Toni Morrison, his daughter’s ghost possesses the main character, and the story is set in the real world.
Even though the worldbuilding is identical to the original world, it is more detailed than an average nonfiction book. Such prose is written with a lyrical tone, like compiling a poem. Writers stick to detailing to hook the reader on the “slightly off-balanced from reality” plot.
From hallucinating about dead people to talking objects, imagination is the limit for magical elements in this genre. Even though they do not occur in reality, they are perceived as expected in such stories, just like Inception, the blockbuster movie by Christopher Nolan.
Limited Information and Symbolism
Although they delve deep into the detailing, writers often leave some room for the reader to interpret the story by themselves. They deliberately leave a string of magic in the chords of nonfiction to normalize it as much as possible—an egg hatching into a ruby, a baby born with feathers, etc. The most famous example is found in the play Black Swan. The main character grows feathers and hallucinates that she is becoming a black swan herself. It perfectly explains magic realism.
A Way to Reflect on the Society
Some things are better explained with an artistic impression. Books with magic realism often emphasize creating a social and political impact. Due to the immense critical acclaim of this genre, authors use it to inflict critique on politics, elites, and society in general. For example, many movies show disdain for American Imperialism, especially in Latin America, where Western oppression and exploitation rose.
Identical Yet Out of the World
The plot settings and narrative by magic realistic authors do not follow a typical paradigm. There are no clear beginnings, ending, or middle of the story. The story may start with the climax and build the plot around it. These books are more intense and engaging, testing a reader’s mental muscle with every flipping page.
What Was the Inspiration Behind Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Writing Style?
In an interview with the Atlantic in 1973, Marquez said he had always been a writer. His life is sort of a novel, especially his parent’s forbidden love story and how they eloped to start a family of twelve. Marquez was the eldest and lived with his grandparents, his parents moved away when he was very young, and he only learned about them when he was eight. As a child, Marquez’s grandma was the one who fed his imagination with folktales, ghost stories, and superstition, igniting a passion for storytelling.
A Word Picture of Marquez’s Literary Journey
As a law student graduating from the University of Bogota, Marquez gauged very little from his education. He spent most of his student life writing stories and observing people. His talent was first highlighted by an editor of a Columbian newspaper, El Espectador, when he sent a collection of short stories published as Eyes of a Blue Dog in 1947.
Due to the political violence starting in 1948, his university was closed, and Marquez transferred to Cartagena. Soon, he resumed his career as a journalist. He used to write an ironic yet humorous reflection of his views in El Heraldo titled: The Giraffe. No one knew at that point that his particular style of writing would become an identification for his stories. After a fulfilled time with the editorial, he returned to Bogota to become a film critic and journalist for El Espectador.
His journey with this newspaper was nothing short of an adventure. From exposing the government to helping a sleepy town get hype, he did everything that could challenge his imagination. He was never the journalist who would compete with others to get on the first page. Marquez was more interested in covering stories about fires and crimes in the city. However, his constant adventures didn’t sit right with the government, and the higher-ups soon shut El Espectador down.
The closure officially marked his entry into the world of fiction novels and stories, and he published his first book, Leaf Storm, which was a shifting perspective of three attendees of the village doctor’s funeral, a father, his daughter, and his godson. Amid El Espectador shutting down and his pursuit of finding a director to make a film on his book, he was stranded in Paris for a few years. He found solace in writing again. His days of living hand-to-mouth, abandoned, and far-flung from home fueled the creativity within him. This time he was creating a short story on violence. This story turned into a novel, then two full-fledged manuscripts titled In Evil Hour and No One Writes to the Colonel.
He then returned to Columbia and got married. Garcia’s sources of inspiration for his writing were uncountable, one being his drive from Mexico City to Acapulco, which inspired him to write “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” His famous works include Love in the Time of Cholera, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, and Of Love and Other Demons.
Is Gabriel Garcia Marquez a Postcolonial Writer?
Yes, His work is living proof of his legacy as a magic realism author.
Garcia’s most famous novels, aka love stories, usually gravitated toward the postcolonial era. His versions of reality had elements to keep the reader intrigued throughout the book. His work contains a hue of satire, humor, violence, magic, solitude, and anti-colonial sentiments. Usually, postcolonial literature is written by authors from past colonized regions and those who have studied the relationship between power, relations, cultures, and people of the previous oppressed era.
Why Is Gabriel Garcia Marquez Influential?
Marquez was responsible for the boom of Latin American literature internationally. His fame promoted many Latin authors overseas, introducing readers to magic realism in literature. He was also a notable figure in Columbia’s political and social events. He advocated the atrocities and unfair treatment of the poor and weak. He never shied away from exposing the Western propaganda behind the economic exploitation of the Colombian people.
The message behind his novels and short stories can be summarized into a realistic and fantastic account mixed with a rich imagination. His work reflected his people’s life and conflicts. Literary critics also recognized Marquez’s efforts as he won the Nobel Prize in Literature on 10th December 1982. He gave an acceptance speech entitled “The Solitude of Latin America.”
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What Are Some of the Best Books in the Magic Realism Genre?
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Considered one of the most influential family dramas in Latin Literature, this is the story of the Buendia family, the founding family of the fictional town of Marquez in Native Columbia, living for a hundred years. This unique family saga is a collection of their adventures along the slipstream of Columbian history. Their shifting fortunes in the book depict the country’s situation as the Buendia family gets swept up in political upheaval, violence, and technological change.
Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter
A feminist takes on magic realism that follows the story of Sophie Fevvers, an aerialist who keeps her circus business afloat with her escapades. Sophie is magic; she was born with the nubs of wings but sold to the brothel. She spent her childhood working as a living statue, but as she hits puberty, her nubs turn into fully-feathered wings. But Jack Walser is not buying her story, so he follows her from London to Siberia on a whirlwind tour.
Bonus Addition: Ted’s Tales
If you are looking for a shorter yet intriguing read to fill your weekend afternoons, then Ted Delgrosso’s collection of short stories, Ted’s Tales, is a great option. The book has some interesting stories in the contemporary fiction and sci-fi sections that appropriately capture the essence of magic realism. If you are looking for a bite-sized fiction story for grown-ups, then Ted’s Tales is the right choice.