Recently I embarked on a daunting and arduous task: completing Gerald Martin’s biography of Colombian writer Gabriel “Gabo” Garcia Marquez. For Martin this was the work of a lifetime, quite literally; the biographer devoted 17 years to this passion project, conducting research and intensive interviews with over 300 individuals all in Spanish (though the book was first published in English).
While I never thought I could complete such an exhaustive study of one single, though undeniably worthy, individual, the biography reads much more like a narrative rather than an intensive listing of the events, places, names, and dates that make up a life as many biographies can quickly become. In fact, Gabriel Garcia Marquez: A Life is highly reminiscent of the famed subject’s classic novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, though this may be because so much of his fiction is based on his own life (or maybe because of Martin’s serious emulation for, and unintentional imitation of, Garcia Marquez). And for anyone who has struggled with keeping the Buendia family tree straight, don’t worry: Martin offers a much more easy-to-follow genealogical record of his subject.
A praiseworthy biography, not only for the nearly two decades that Martin devoted to it, but also because it provides a careful, honest, and engaging profile of Colombia’s beloved Nobel Prize-winning novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez.