Last year sometime in late August I had made a promise to myself. “I promise to read more, to take a deep dive into literature”. Here confined in a loop of a meaningless routine I finally decided to take control and work on my reading muscle, but I needed the right book.
I was having trouble finding the perfect novel to start on and my father saw me aimlessly sifting through my shelf. I asked if he had any good recommendations and he just said “Downstairs”. I followed him to his room where he searched through his books shelf and I remember his concentration. Finally, he found it, and a familiar but rare expression of enthusiasm washed over him and he handed me a colorful and detailed cover. The title was “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez. When I finally held the book in my hands, a subconscious feeling of excitement loomed over me. I know I had been recommended this book before, multiple times, but to have such a vibrant, mystical world right under my roof seemed serendipitous. “What’s it about?” I’m sure he heard my excitement. My father shook his head handed me a bookmark and said: “Don’t even read the description”.
I took my father’s advice and opened the vibrant cover ignoring everything but the first few words. It read “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”
After involuntarily blurting out “Wow” I had just realized after reading the passage that I had envisioned the entire line of Colonel Aureliano Buendía tied to a pole, reminiscing about the magical discovery of something so ordinary to us mortals. From then on I was hooked, unable to put the book down, and as the pages flipped over I became more and more obsessed. I was falling deeply for the novels unmistakable fictional South American inspired town of Macondo, the presence of magic and alchemy being treated as normal and familiar, while the real is presented to it’s most fantastical and surreal versions of themselves. I had never in my life had such vivid, exciting visions in any form of media.
I spoke to my parents after reading the book, telling them it was exactly what I had been looking for all my life. That was when my mother explained she had many books from Nobel Prize-winning authors like Márquez but these authors were from my home country Peru. She was proud to give such a magnificent piece of her creative culture to me. She started handing me the dozens of books, some from her own small home town village of Sartimbamba. Finally after handing me the last book she claimed with confidence “I think you will grow as a storyteller from these novels” and so far she’s right. I’ve never had such a consistent vision while reading anything in my life. I can imagine the vibrant colonial towns, exciting characters and their tangled plots, the fantastic drama and events all manifested by writers of my heritage. I feel so proud and ashamed to have ignored and even dismiss the creative brilliance of my ancestors. I regret not having read more and ignoring these marvelous works of art that had been closer to me than I could ever imagine.
I had read novels I wanted to adapt to screenplays but could never settle on one consistently. I think I’ve found not just the novel in One Hundred Years of Solitude, but I know I’ve found a genre and culture I’m eager to adapt. Despite the regret, I’m happy that my South American roots have such a rich history in storytelling and that I have the privilege to experience it.
If you would like the names of these books and authors I’m happy to share them with you. They’re brilliant and deserve every bit of recognition.