Today is famed Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez’s 84th birthday. Known for his importance in developing the genre of magical realism as well as his lush descriptions of an often only slightly shifted Colombia, Márquez has created some of the most beautiful worlds of any writer living today. In the introduction to the Everyman’s Library edition of One Hundred Years of Solitude, author Carlos Fuentes writes, “[Márquez] creates a place. A mythical locale: Macondo. García Márquez, story-teller, knows that presence dissolves without a place (a base of resistance) that can be all places: a place that will hold everyone, that will hold all of us: the seat of time, she enshrinement of all times, the meeting ground of memory and desire, a common present where everything can begin again: a temple, a book.”
Indeed, place can be one of the most important ingredients in a novel or story, and since we associate Márquez so deeply with the Colombia he has created for us, we decided to take a look at more authors who are tied to a specific place, and whose work relies on a strong evocation of that land, whether foreign or domestic. Click through to take a look at our ten favorite writers of place, and let us know if we’ve missed your favorite in the comments.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez — Colombia
“The ground became soft and damp, like volcanic ash, and the vegetation was thicker and thicker, and the cries of the birds and the uproar of the monkeys became more and more remote, and the world became eternally sad. The men on the expedition felt overwhelmed by their most ancient memories in that paradise of dampness and silence, going back to before original sin, as their boots sank into pools of steaming oil and their machetes destroyed bloody lilies and golden salamanders.” — One Hundred Years of Solitude
Márquez’s evocations of his native land are luminous throughout his work, though perhaps never so magical as in One Hundred Years of Solitude, where he seamlessly steeps the wildness of the mind and the weight of history in the lush beauty of the landscape. Every step into Márquez’s Colombia (and every step back out the other side) is dangerous, significant, and thrilling.