Book review: Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

February 3, 2008

Title: The Autumn of the Patriarch
Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Pages: 229

The Autumn of the Patriarch is an unusual novel characterized by:

  • Lengthly sentences (they go on for pages and pages!)
  • Each chapter is a single huge paragraph

For these reaons it is quite hard to read. I would have left it half-read had it not been written by a Nobel prize winner. This book is completely different in style from the other books I have read by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

The story takes place in a Caribbean country that has been ruled by a cruel dictator for more than two hundred years. The novel begins soon after the death of the dictator. The book is essentially a biography of “the general”, as the un-named dictator is known.

The book is full of dark humour, for example the general thought nobody knew he was visiting a woman (to sit in silence with her and her mother, don’t get ideas!) when his men were guarding him from the roof-tops and even re-directing traffic.

Marquez makes frequent jumps in time which are very disorienting, even more so given the lengthy sentences. It’s not unusual for him to jump from person to person, “me” and “him” sometimes refer to the same person in the same sentence.

Despite its dense prose this book is considered to be one of Marquez’s greatest achievements; after all many of the worlds greatest novels (Gravity’s Well, Absalom Absalom, etc) are known to be “difficult”.

I will not tell you not to read this book but you should know that his other books are much more “accessible” and enjoyable.


3 Responses to “Book review: Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel Garcia Marquez”

  1. Heliologue Says:

    I keep meaning to read some Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but he seems so daunting that I keep putting it off.

  2. […] book: Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel Garcia Marquez Because its prose is extremely dense and hard to […]

  3. silverseason Says:

    I started this book, after thoroughly enjoying Love in the Time of Cholera. I’m about 30 pages in and about to quit. Whatever I’ getting in dark humor and elegance of language does not seem to justify the paid.

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