Book Review: The General and His Labyrinth

The General In His Labyrinth by Gabriel García Márquez, a fictionalized (but heavily researched) account of the last seven days of the champion of South American Independence, Simón Bolívar.

This is possibly García Márquez least popular book, both in its original Spanish and in its English translation, for very different reasons. Readers in the US argued that all that history made it tedious. Readers in Spanish felt offended by the creative liberties that Gabo took with the great hero; making him sickly, weak and power-hungry. Pitiful in his last days.

Gabo’s Bolívar is weak, prematurely old, self-obsessed. He farts far too much and is a picky eater. Some people didn’t like that. But he’s also a poet, a singer, an extraordinary dancer, a bookworm. A hopeless romantic. Gabo said he modeled his Bolívar after himself. That should tell us something about who Gabo was. And this is not your high school History lesson; in typical Gabo fashion, the language is rich, lyrical, beautiful.

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