Solitude of a different kind

First edition

First edition

Years ago, a family friend lent me a copy of the novel in Polish translation. The cover was mostly black with some image in front I can’t recall. I also don’t remember our friend praising the book in any particular way. He just thought I needed to read it. The novel waited for me on my bedside table for a few months, perhaps longer, if memory serves me right. Luckily, our friend was in no hurry to get it back. I must have been about 20 years old, at university, buried under tons of other books and deadlines.

All of these are vague recollections.

What is distinct in my memory is the getting lost inside the novel after reading only a few pages. All else ceased to matter. I entered a completely different world. Every page was like a door opening on a new space in my head and in my heart – none of which I had a clue existed before. The experience was mind-blowing, earth-moving, and simply beautiful.

Who says a book cannot change the world? Sto lat samotności did, not only for me. In its many translations the novel has enthralled millions of readers around the world.

Published in 1967, ten years before I was born, Cien años de soledad is a classic in the truest sense of the word. Its author, Gabriel García Márquez, died yesterday at the age of 87. May he rest in peace. May his words live on forever.

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