Keeping Up With The Penguins

Reviews For The Would-Be Booklover

Category: Award Winners (page 1 of 8)

The Color Purple – Alice Walker

How’s this for an opening line: “You better not never tell nobody but God.” Chills, right? It’s a powerful opener for a powerful book, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. It sets the stage for a story told largely through letters to God, from a black woman named Celie. When she starts writing these letters, she is just fourteen years old, and yet she has already seen and experienced a lifetime’s worth of hardship.

The Color Purple - Alice Walker - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins
Buy The Color Purple here.
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(To fortify you for what’s to come, here’s a fun fact about my copy of The Color Purple: it was once awarded to Ella S at her Year 7 Speech Night, for Excellence in Mathematics of all things, according to the plate stuck in the front. Wherever she is, hope she’s still kicking the quadratic equation’s arse!)

Celie’s story begins, as I said, with her at fourteen years old, living in poverty and lacking any real education. Her story begins in the American South (Georgia, it would seem) in the early half of the 20th century. As if all of that weren’t enough – trigger warning! so many trigger warnings! – she has also been beaten and raped (repeatedly) by her father, Alphonso. She became pregnant, twice, and as far as she knows Alphonso has killed their children. The abuse at the hands of her father, and just about every other man in her life, has left her with very little self-worth or belief, aside from that which she finds in her letters to God. The dialect in which she writes takes a little getting used to at first, but no more so than books like Huck Finn.

The bright spot in Celie’s life is her younger sister, Nettie – a beautiful, clever, and brave girl whom Celie will protect from their father at all costs. An older man (identified only as Mister) comes sniffing around, looking for a bride. Alphonso refuses to let him take Nettie, and Mister begrudgingly accepts Celie instead (he needs someone, desperately, to care for his children and keep his house, ugh). Unfortunately, it’s out of the frying pan and into the fire for Celie, because as Mister’s wife she experiences only more abuse and degradation.





Not long after, Nettie runs away from home. She and Celie know she could never be safe at Mister’s house (he does, after all, still have his rapey eye on her), so Celie recommends she seek out a wealthy stranger she once met in passing to help. Unbelievably, this works, and Nettie joins their household and their missionary trip to Africa. Nettie promises to write, but when Celie never receives any letters, she concludes that her sister must be dead.

About a third of the way through The Color Purple, we’re introduced to the third central character: Shug Avery, a jazz singer and long-time mistress of Mister (whom she calls Albert, weird). When she falls ill, Mister takes her in to be cared for (i.e., by his wife, Celie) until she’s well enough to go back to work. Little does he know, he’s tying his own noose: Celie and Shug fall in love.

Shug is basically everything Celie wishes herself to be: brave, free, talented, beautiful, and worldly (in every sense). Their relationship strengthens and deepens over time, and eventually Celie elects to move away from Shug, abandoning her arsehole husband and his rotten kids. Through Shug, she also learns that her sister Nettie is not dead after all: Mister has been hiding her letters, she is alive and well in Africa, and Celie clings to hope that one day they will be reunited. And I suppose that’s about as far as I can get into describing the plot without getting too spoiler-y…





It actually took me a while to work out when exactly the events of The Color Purple were taking place. Given that the majority of the action occurs in isolated rural areas, and things have been so shitty for women of colour for so long, it could’ve been just about any time since the American Civil War. Towards the end, however, characters started alluding to a(nother) world war, which puts the timeline between 1910 and 1940. I actually liked the timeless quality, with Walker’s focus on the immediate and the minutia of character. It made the story more universal, more ingratiating to readers in the present.

You’d be forgiven for assuming that, with all the God talk and letters that are basically prayers, that this is a religious novel. Walker says in her preface that “this is the book in which I was able to express a new spiritual awareness, a rebirth into strong feelings of Oneness I realised I had experienced and taken for granted as a child,”. That said, The Color Purple isn’t evangelical or preachy at all. I found it totally accessible and relatable, even as a lifelong atheist. Celie explicitly starts to doubt the “official” version of God (as organised Christian religion would have us believe) about halfway through the novel, and comes to the remarkably progressive conclusion that “god” is in everything. Her last letter is addressed: “Dear God. Dear stars, dear trees, dear sky, dear peoples. Dear Everything. Dear God.”

The core message I took away from The Color Purple was not, despite the impression I might have given, “doesn’t life suck for people of colour”. Instead, it was to marvel at the strength and power of relationships between women. It is through her relationship with Shug, and her persistent belief in the strength of her bond with Nettie, that Celie is able to overcome all that oppresses her. The women in her life are a salve to the wounds inflicted by men and their violence, as Celie herself is a salve to the wounds inflicted on the women she loves. So, despite the rather traumatic and depressing content, the “feel” of The Color Purple is more hopeful and uplifting than you might expect.





The Color Purple was first published in 1982, and went on to win both the National Book Award For Fiction and the Pulitzer Prize For Fiction in 1983 (making Walker the first black woman to win the latter). It has retained its cultural currency in the intervening decades – so much so that it continues to be banned and challenged in schools and libraries, which seems to be a rite of passage for any meaningful work of literature. Common reasons for scrapping it from reading lists include the explicit sexual content, language, violence, and lesbianism (the horror! *eye roll*). It appeared on the American Library Association’s list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000-2009.

There has been a very successful movie adaptation (with Oprah!), and a musical adaptation too, but I actually don’t feel all that inclined to seek either of them out. I feel like the power of the story comes from Celie’s telling of it, in words on paper, and I’m not sure it could translate onto screen or stage. All told, The Color Purple is a brilliant and very moving work of art, one well worth a read (and probably at least one or two re-reads, come to that).

My favourite Amazon reviews of The Color Purple:

  • “Life is uncertain and people are generally bad and good. When you can, do the things that make you happy.” – Kelly
  • “The book was a lot like the movie but different.” – N. Keith
  • “It was very disheartening for to see this book be ruined so with the perversion of lesbianism. Otherwise, it would have been a very good book. It was informative and interesting, but very disgusting because of the sexual perversion of lesbianism.” – Ecclesia
  • “incredible sorrry” – jessica Utley


The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead

When most kids first hear about the Underground Railroad, they picture just that: train tracks that ran underground, and (in this context) ferried slaves to safety during a truly abhorrent period of American history. Colson Whitehead is the first writer – as far as I know – to take that childish notion and turn it into literary fiction. The Underground Railroad is a semi-speculative alternative history of the antebellum South, one that Barack Obama called “terrific” and won the Pulitzer Prize in 2017.

The Underground Railroad - Colson Whitehead - Keeping Up With The Penguins
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Before we go any further, I need to make something clear: I’m an Australian girl with no more than the general gist of American history. I have absolutely no authority when it comes to accounts of the slave trade in the States, and no more knowledge than what I’ve gleaned here and there (we didn’t even cover it in school, really). All I’ve done is read this book, and I’m going to tell you what I think of it – take that with as many grains of salt as you deem necessary.

So, back in 2000, baby Whitehead has this idea to write a book about a literal underground railroad… but he chickens out. He doesn’t think he’s got the writing chops to pull it off. Still, the idea festers away in the darkest recesses of his brain, for over a decade. Finally, with five other novels to his name, he sets about writing it, The Underground Railroad.

This process entailed the kind of research that makes you exhausted just to think about: difficult and time consuming. Whitehead spent longer than you or I care to imagine working his way through the oral history archives (over two thousand personal accounts of slavery collected by the Federal Writers’ Project back in the ’30s), and traditional slave testimonies. To his credit, Whitehead doesn’t drown the reader in detail; he employs the ol’ iceberg theory of writing (nine-tenths below the surface) in The Underground Railroad to great effect. The story has the ring of authenticity, without straying into showing-off territory.





The central character, Cora, is born into slavery on a plantation in Georgia. When she is alarmingly young, her mother – Mabel – escapes, without her, leaving her to fend for herself. Obviously, that engenders some very complicated feelings in Cora, pride that her mother was able to extricate herself on the one hand (she was never caught, not even by the notorious slave-catcher Ridgeway), but resentment at being abandoned on the other. Fair enough, wouldn’t you say?

Cora doesn’t harbour any particular aspirations to escape herself although, as she says: “Every slave thinks about it. In the morning and in the afternoon and in the night. Dreaming of it. Every dream a dream of escape even when it didn’t look like it.” Life on the plantation is so horrific that it’s impossible not to dream of escape, but at the same time the odds seem insurmountable (Mabel is the only slave who’s ever pulled it off).

Enter Caesar: a fellow slave, a young man, who approaches Cora and asks her to accompany him on his escape attempt. He seems to view her as some kind of lucky charm, given her mother’s success. Cora rebuffs him at first, but the idea takes root, and grows in her until it seems inevitable. This is how she finds herself swept into the clandestine operation of the underground railroad. In Whitehead’s telling, it’s no metaphor: it has tracks, and stations, and conductors, and timetables. Escaping by the narrowest of margins, Cora and Ceasar board a train and find themselves…





… in South Carolina. And North Carolina. And Tennessee, and Indiana, and further beyond. Her journey is harrowing (to say the least) and each stop on the railroad presents a different manifestation of the reality (and the legacy) of slavery in America. In between each of these stations, Whitehead gives the reader a digression, a back-story of people Cora encounters. At first, they might appear only tangential to the story, but they all piece together to give a more complete picture of what Cora – and at least sixty million others – had to face.

From page one, The Underground Railroad depicts the gruesome realities of the slave trade and enslaved lives. Every chapter reveals some new horror. So much of what happens to Cora is gut-churningly awful, and yet… it’s compelling, and propulsive. The Underground Railroad is not a light or easy read, but it’s unputdownable all the same. That’s a very weird combination, and not one I’ve encountered often in my literary sojourns. I read a review on The Guardian that described it as “beautifully written and painful to read”, which pretty much sums it up.

When Whitehead was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for this book, the committee cited the “smart melding of realism and allegory that combines the violence of slavery and the drama of escape that speaks to contemporary America”. They weren’t the only ones who were impressed; The Underground Railroad also won the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the 2017 Andrew Carneige Medal for Excellence. Sometimes, books that rack up awards are overlooked or discounted by the wider public, written off as too lofty or literary to be decipherable by regular humans, but The Underground Railroad hit all the best-seller lists.

Not to be basic about it, but I’m a fan. A huge fan. It feels twisted to have so thoroughly enjoyed and relished a book about such a terrible subject, but I’ll chalk that up to Whitehead’s talent rather than any defect in my own character. I predict The Underground Railroad will go on to join the canon of classic works about American slavery, alongside Beloved and Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

My favourite Amazon reviews of The Underground Railroad:

  • “I don’t think this book gives an factual account of what the Underground Railroad was. I also question whether or not a person could have gone through what Cora did and survived!?!” – Betty
  • “The fake railroad just didn’t work for me.” – AMO1234
  • “This is perfect background for these times of racial conflict. The south was not all mansions and mint juleps.” – Kindle Customer
  • “Poorly written and how do I say, trite. Fails as science fiction, and fails at historical fiction. An actual subterranean interstate railway system that is un-noticed by authorities. Who built it? How did they do it un-noticed? No nuance. A poor imitation of Forest Gump, focused on senseless torture and atrocities. The Pulitzer committee should be ashamed. To summarize, I did not like it.” – M. Konikoff
  • “Since when do cabbages grow on vines.
    My worry is that some people may think this is a nonfiction book.” – Amazon Customer

Australia Day – Melanie Cheng

One of my favourite bits of book trivia is that Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes, was actually a country doctor. Believe it or not, back in those days, writing actually paid better than doctoring, so detective stories were his side-hustle. It’s kind of the other way around for Melanie Cheng, but still, she is both a general practitioner, and now – after publication of her debut short story collection, Australia Day, in 2017 – a writer.

Australia Day - Melanie Cheng - Keeping Up With The Penguins
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Balancing medicine and manuscript wasn’t easy for Cheng. This collection was written over a period of nine years, and finally published after she won the Victorian Premier’s Prize for an unpublished manuscript in 2016. Australia Day contains 14 stories, each depicting some aspect of the life of a “typical” Australian. Of course, there’s no such thing; her protagonists range from the very young to the very old, the wealthy to the working class, the vaguely Christian to the devout Muslim… so, no points for deducing that she was Making A Point(TM).

Australians don’t share a single background or cultural identity, nor do their experiences of Australian life necessarily match up. And yet, the characters in Australia Day undoubtedly “belong” together. They all desire the comfort of home, and yet they all feel some variety of displacement. That seems to be the defining characteristic of the typical Australian, by this collection’s definition.



An important note on the title, for overseas Keeper Upperers who might not understand the subtext: Australia Day is our “official” national public holiday, 26 January, supposedly commemorating the arrival of the First Fleet of British ships in 1788. Setting the many historical quibbles with that date aside, it has become a really contentious subject in contemporary Australia given that the arrival of the British marked the beginning of a period of horrific destruction and violence for the First Nations people of this continent. While some Australians are having barbecues, and others are having citizenship ceremonies, Indigenous Australians and their allies are mourning. It has become a rallying point for resistance against the ongoing colonial occupation of First Nations land.

So, to call a short story collection Australia Day, particularly one that doesn’t always necessarily paint Australia and Australians in a great light… well, it’s a bold choice.

To really underline the point, the first and last stories of the collection – the bookends, as it were – are both set on Australia Day. The first is about a young medical student, an immigrant from Hong Kong, bravely facing a hailstorm of microaggressions at an Australia Day barbecue. The last is about an elderly woman, Mrs Chan, whose grandson’s birthday happens to fall on the same date.



Some of the stories, like ‘Macca’, clearly draw upon Cheng’s experience as a doctor. I’d imagine that line of work has given her intimate access to private lives across the spectrum of our community, which gives her a deep well from which she can draw characters who are complex and complete. That said, at times, I got the impression that Cheng was simply trying to show off how much of the world she’d seen and how open her eyes were to different life experiences. To my mind, the best of her stories were the deceptively banal slice-of-life ones, as opposed to the white-guilt-marrying-into-money-and-honeymooning-in-the-Maldives ones.

Plot-wise, the stories generally focus on the structural inequalities that Australians battle every day. In that sense, it’s a lot like Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap, or (to use an overseas example) Tayari Jones’s An American Marriage. Cheng has written about people and their problems (as opposed to problems personified), and in so doing, made their struggles tangible without the telling of them coming across as moralistic or patronising.

All of Cheng’s characters are seeking something elusive, at times ineffable, and there are few happy endings. Some of the stories – ‘Ticket Holder Number 5’ in particular – offer the clang of revelation that I look for in short stories. Others fell a bit… well, short. Still others were perhaps ahead of their time; ‘Big Problems’ struck me as a precursor to novels like Kiley Reid’s Such A Fun Age. So, as with any short story collection (with maybe a notable exception or two), I’d say that this one is hit and miss. Some are great, some are okay, and each reader will probably have their own opinion as to which is which.


The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time – Mark Haddon

In your standard murder mystery novel, a hard-boiled detective sorts clues from red herrings to track down the murderer of a young woman. The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time is different. It is a self-proclaimed mystery novel, with the requisite crime and investigation format, but the victim is a neighbourhood pet and the detective is 15-year-old Christopher, a young man who perceives the world differently.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Christopher is read (by most readers, anyway) as having Asperger Syndrome, or having some kind of autism spectrum disorder. As a character, he describes himself as being “a mathematician with some behavioural difficulties”. Haddon, the author, insists that The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time is “not specifically about any specific disorder” (which makes the choice to give Christopher so many traits commonly associated with Asperger’s and other developmental disorders very strange). I feel like it’s an “easy out” for Haddon to say that Christopher has “no specific disorder”, because – as he admits – he is neurotypical and has no expertise in this area.

“I have to say honestly that I did more research about the London Underground and the inside of Swindon Railway Station, where some of the novel takes place, than I did about Asperger syndrome. I gave [Christopher] kind of 9 or 10 rules that he would live his life by, and then I didn’t read any more about Asperger’s because I think there is no typical person who has Asperger syndrome, and they’re as large and diverse a group of people as any other group in society.”

Mark Haddon

He’s right, of course, in saying that people with Asperger’s – and other types of mental and neurological disorders – are a large, diverse group who cannot be adequately captured in or represented by a single fictional character. It’s good that he didn’t try. But I think his lack of expertise and experience explains why his characterisation sometimes felt so… flat. Christopher didn’t jump off the page to me, the way that other neurodiverse characters have (I’m thinking of Zelda in When We Were Vikings as an example). Christopher’s “no specific disorder” seemed to be the only remarkable characteristic he had, and it coloured every description or insight we may have had into his mind and his life.





But let’s leave that alone for now, and get back to the story. When Christopher discovers his neighbour’s dog dead in her backyard (yes, I cried, dog deaths slay me – RIP Wellington!), he takes it upon himself to find the culprit. He decides to write down (i.e., narrate) the details of his investigation in the form of a murder mystery novel, and that’s the frame for The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time. Christopher continues his investigation, interrogating neighbours and collecting evidence, despite his father’s express instruction to stay out of other people’s business.

His home life, he slowly reveals to us, is a bit screwy. His mother is dead, and his father – Ed – probably isn’t going to win any trophies for parenting. Ed has been raising Christopher as a single parent for two years when the story begins, and yet Christopher seems to have more affinity (and respect) for Siobhan, his paraprofessional and mentor at school. She takes the time to explain behaviour and rules to Christopher in a way that makes sense to him, and he relies on her guidance to help him navigate the world.





Christopher solves the case in the end (of course), and uncovers a whole bunch of other mysteries and adventures along the way. That makes it sound a bit cutesy, but trust me, they’re sometimes dark and sometimes horrifying. I won’t give them all away, other than to say that most readers will find the story very moving. If I’m honest, the dog murder was the most upsetting bit for me (and you can keep any analysis of what that says about me to yourself, thanks!).

To circle back around to what I was saying earlier, Christopher’s character just didn’t quite pull me in the way it seems to have pulled in others. Perhaps I’m simply spoiled for having read other, brilliant representations of neurodiverse characters in the seventeen years since this one was first released. For me, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time was fairly good… but not great, and certainly not as great as I’d hoped.

See, I’m fairly lonely in my lukewarm reception of this one. Haddon won the 2003 Whitbread Book Of The Year award for it, the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, and a whole stack of others – it was even long-listed for the Booker! Its popularity endures, too. The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time has been translated into over 35 languages, transformed into a stage adaptation, rights sold for a film adaptation (though no movement at that station yet), and named as one of the Guardian’s 100 best books of the 21st century. So, don’t let me put you off!

My favourite Amazon reviews of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time:

  • “This book is aggressively ok. I mean that as a compliment, honestly. Christopher is a really enjoyable character and I feel he tells his story with just the right amount of enthusiasm to keep you going. The militant atheism wears on you a bit, and I say that as a devout agnostic.” – The Professor
  • “Got as I gift but when the book arrived I kind of wanted to keep for myself.” – Amazon Customer
  • “Christophar was lit.” – daiyan ahmed
  • “What was the point? Just to tell a story of one’s life? Totally narcissistic in my opinion Not a fan Should have disclaimer” – Shelley

One Hundred Years Of Solitude – Gabriel García Márquez

Much like a piano player in a bar, on occasion I’ll take requests – and I can’t think of a book review that has been requested more often by more Keeper Upperers than One Hundred Years Of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. This landmark novel was first published in García Márquez’s native Spanish (as Cien años de soledad) in 1967, and this edition was translated into English by Gregory Rabassa. Here we go…!

One Hundred Years Of Solitude covers seven generations in the life of the Buendía family (don’t worry, there’s a helpful family tree in the front of most editions if you lose track of who’s who along the way). It has a cracker of an opening line – the famous one about Colonel Buendía facing the firing squad – that echoes throughout the story, like a drawn-out version of a life flashing before your eyes.

The story really begins, however, with the patriarch of the family, José Arcadio, deciding to move his family out of their hometown after an… unfortunate incident (he stabbed a mate at a cockfight, over some nasty accusations of limp dick). The family settles by a river and establishes the town of Macondo, which José Arcadio envisages as a “city of mirrors”, a paradise for his growing brood.

The town remains isolated, almost entirely disconnected from the world, save for a band of gypsies (I don’t know if that’s cool to say or not, but that’s the word García Márquez used so that’s what I’m going with) who visit them each year. They come to hawk their incredible technologies – magnets! Telescopes! Ice! And José Arcadio is more than willing to hand over every dollar he has for their gizmos and gadgets.





In fact, José Arcadio goes full mad scientist, trying to figure out how to save the world with magnets, while his wife – Ursula – simply has to put up with his bullshit, for lack of any other option. She keeps the kids fed and the clothes clean and the house in order, while José spirals deeper into his delusions.

Joke’s on him, though: in the end, he invents squat, while his long-suffering wife lives to be well over 100 years old, reigning over six of the seven generations of Buendías. This brings me to what I consider to be the central moral or message of One Hundred Years Of Solitude: men are stupid, and it’s always up to the women to clean up the mess.

“They’re all alike,” Ursula lamented. “At first they behave very well, they’re obedient and prompt and they don’t seem capable of killing a fly, but as soon as their beards appear they go to ruin.”

One Hundred Years Of Solutide (156)

Oh, but that’s not all! García Márquez has more than one row to hoe. Bureaucracy is from the devil. War and jealousy are pretty bad, too. A propensity towards sex with your sisters and cousins will probably end in tears (it turns out Game Of Thrones didn’t invent incest, who knew?).

It’s all this in-family rooting that seems to be the cause of most of the Buendías’ troubles. Ursula and José were cousins before they were married, and their kids inherited both their curiosity in other branches of the family tree and their fear that their family will be supernaturally punished for these abominations. The recurring example is the Buendía cousin who was born with a tail; he bled to death and died after asking his butcher mate to chop it off, because he was worried he wouldn’t be able to lose his virginity if girls kept laughing every time he pulled his pants down.





That’s an example of the “magical realism” we’ve all heard so much about. Mostly, One Hundred Years Of Solitude is grounded in recognisable reality – there are people and they have problems that have a tangible worldly basis. But, now and then, weird stuff happens. García Márquez blurs the line between the literal and the metaphorical. People are born with tails. Ghosts hang out in your backyard. A beautiful woman levitates off her bed and straight up into the sky, never to be seen again. All of this is accepted as normal (or, if not normal, at least not all that mystifying) by the characters involved. The banality of these magical events is reinforced by the narrator’s lack of interest in them, too – they are related in the same tone as one might describe what they had for breakfast.

And circling back around to the incest for a minute (c’mon, you didn’t think I could leave it alone for long, did you?), it seems to me to be a way of manifesting two of the major themes of the book: solitude (duh), and the cyclical nature of time. Because the town the Buendías founded and inhabit is so isolated, they really don’t have much choice but to start boning down with others in the same gene pool. And that’s why they see the same problems, the same dramas, the same events playing out time and time again, too.

In the end, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that Macondo (and, by extension, the Buendía family) falls apart. The last surviving son discovers a manuscript left behind by one of his forebears, which depicts all of the family’s struggles and triumphs. Meanwhile, a wild wind whips up and away all remaining traces of the town that they founded.





Reading One Hundred Years Of Solitude is a lot like listening to a drunk person tell you a story when you’re five pints deep yourself. It’s sprawling, and tangential, and you can be sure they’re taking a bit of creative license, but you can still follow what they’re saying and you’re curious enough not to excuse yourself to go to the bathroom mid-sentence and never return. There’s not much tagged dialogue (as in “blah blah blah”, he said), and the timeline feels fluid and circular, so it really does read as though the story is being told to you second-hand. It’s not unenjoyable, but it’s not a straightforward story, either.

One Hundred Years Of Solitude, in the fifty-odd years since its release, has been translated into over forty languages and sold over 50 million copies. It’s widely considered to be García Márquez’s magnum opus, the shining jewel in the crown of the Latin American literary boom of the ’60s and ’70s. When García Márquez won the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature, One Hundred Years Of Solitude was widely touted to be one of the main reasons why. It is now recognised as one of the most significant books of the Hispanic literary canon, and a survey of international writers deemed it the book that has most shaped world literature.

(If it’s so good, why hasn’t it been made into a movie? Find the answer here.)

So, what’s the verdict? I didn’t love-love-love it, but I didn’t hate-hate-hate it, either. I wouldn’t breathlessly thrust it into the hands of a fellow booklover, but I wouldn’t crinkle my nose if they picked it up of their own accord. I’m going to reserve my judgement on García Márquez until I’ve read more of his work – I’ve got my eye on Love In The Time Of Cholera next…

My favourite Amazon reviews of One Hundred Years Of Solitude:

  • “Was forced to read this lengthly exercise in tedium by my freshman English teacher at Yale. Oh, I know, it’s “great literature,” but trust me, the pages do not turn. On top of that, Marquez’s Marxist leanings are all too apparent. Bleh.” – vonhayek
  • “I have no idea what all the fuss regarding this book is about. I found this book irritating in its repetition of the name Jose Arcadia Buendia in virtually every paragraph, or every other paragraph in the first 60 pages. Call the guy Jose and move on… sure, it’s normal and it’s approach of the tribes and villages represented here, but the writing seems so basic. But I guess somebody thought it deserved a Nobel prize. I would prefer that they hand out an ice pick to everyone that reads it, as I wanted to use one on my brain to end the torture of this novel.” – SmilingGoodTimes
  • “I’m so pissed this has Oprah’s logo on it, I wouldn’t have bought if it was on the cover in the picture. Way to cheapen the experience OPRAH” – Ryan Stapleford
  • “A hundred years is a little too much solitude” – The Dwighter

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