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Lost in the rain

Michael Wood, 24 January 1991

The General in his Labyrinth 
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, translated by Edith Grossman.
Cape, 285 pp., £13.99, January 1991, 0 224 03083 3
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... His name modulated into that of a country, but he dreamed of uniting an entire continent. At one point he was president not only of Bolivia but also of what are now Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela. He has been the subject of much stilted painting, of thousands of pompous statues; the object of endless hagiography and heroic rhetoric. He is the Liberator, in this novel simply called the General until the end of the first chapter, when the full roll-call of his name is solemnly performed: General Simon Jose Antonio de la Santisima Trinidad Bolivar y Palacios ...

Little Viper

Lorna Scott Fox: Mario Vargas Llosa, 17 September 1998

TheNotebooks of Don Rigoberto 
by Mario Vargas Llosa, translated by Edith Grossman.
Faber, 259 pp., £15.99, July 1998, 0 571 19309 9
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... Some time in 1970 or 1971, I was picking boring books at random off my employer’s shelf – I was an au pair in Barcelona – when I opened a novel that had me laughing, and transfixed, by the bottom of the first page. My ignorance meant that I was one of the few people to discover One Hundred Years of Solitude without all that baggage of pleasures foretold ...

A Man of No Mind

Colm Tóibín: The Passion of Roger Casement, 13 September 2012

The Dream of the Celt 
by Mario Vargas Llosa and Edith Grossman.
Faber, 404 pp., £18.99, June 2012, 978 0 571 27571 7
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... with The Dream of the Celt begin with the first paragraph, which is a faithful translation by Edith Grossman: When they opened the door to his cell, the street noise that the stone walls had muffled came in along with the stream of light and a blast of wind, and Roger woke in alarm. Blinking, still confused, struggling to calm down, he saw the shape ...

Moths of Ill Omen

Malcolm Deas, 30 October 1997

News of a Kidnapping 
by Gabriel García Márquez, translated by Edith Grossman.
Cape, 291 pp., £16.99, July 1997, 0 224 05002 8
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Chapolas Negras 
by Fernando Vallejo.
Alfaguara, 262 pp., £15, March 1996, 958 24 0283 0
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José Asunción Silva: Obra Completa 
edited by Hector Orjuela.
Unesco/Casa de la Poesía Silva, 747 pp., £40, April 1996, 84 89666 06 7
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... The Hispanic world is particularly reverential towards its writers, perhaps because, through the vagaries of world history, it has not much else to be reverential about. There are the turn of the century poets who could fill opera houses; the overcoated figures photographed on the Paris boulevards, making it, in what Latin Americans still sometimes call, with touching loyalty, the City of Light; the accounts, in the (unreadable) Sunday cultural supplements of La Prensa, El Universal, El Tiempo, or in certain beautifully printed but contentless monthly reviews, of breakfast conversations in New England when the revered poet was in residence on some campus or other ...

Jasmines in the Hallway

Michael Wood: García Márquez tells his story, 3 June 2004

Living to Tell the Tale 
by Gabriel García Márquez, translated by Edith Grossman.
Cape, 484 pp., £18.99, November 2003, 0 224 07278 1
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... In English as in Spanish the title has several meanings. The most obvious one involves survival, hanging on after some disaster or adventure. Another suggests a telling which has become a life, perhaps even a compulsion or a doom, like that of the Ancient Mariner. And García Márquez himself spells out a third possibility: that you live, that you always have lived, for the sake of the future story, the one you will keep telling ...

Instant Fellini

Tessa Hadley: Carlos Fuentes, 12 February 2009

Happy Families 
by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Edith Grossman.
Bloomsbury, 332 pp., £17.99, October 2008, 978 0 7475 9528 1
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... In ‘Eternal Father’, the last story in Happy Families, three sisters meet for a candlelit reunion around their father’s coffin, in a sunken park in Mexico City, ‘a cool, shaded urban depression in the midst of countless avenues and mute skyscrapers’. The father died a rich man. We aren’t told how he made his money, although picking up themes from the other stories in the collection we can guess: real estate, construction, politics? (‘He made other people work and took advantage of them,’ his oldest daughter says ...

Memories of a Skinny Girl

Michael Wood: Mario Vargas Llosa, 9 May 2002

The Feast of the Goat 
by Mario Vargas Llosa, translated by Edith Grossman.
Faber, 404 pp., £16.99, March 2002, 0 571 20771 5
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The Decline and Fall of the Lettered City: Latin America in the Cold War 
by Jean Franco.
Harvard, 323 pp., £15.95, May 2002, 0 674 00842 1
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... All long-term dictators are alike: all short-term dictators vanish in their own short way. This at least is the assumption of many writers and readers, and in Latin America it amounts to something like a political faith. Of course there is nothing peculiarly Latin American about dictators of any kind; but Latin Americans often believe, with feelings ranging from outrage to fascination to resignation and back, that their culture has a special ability to beget and abet these creatures, so that they look at them – or at pictures of them – with the stubborn, unavertable gaze of someone looking into a magic mirror ...


Sanjay Subrahmanyam: Gabriel García Márquez, 27 August 2009

Gabriel García Márquez: A Life 
by Gerald Martin.
Bloomsbury, 668 pp., £25, October 2008, 978 0 7475 9476 5
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... that García Márquez opens his autobiography, Vivir para contarla, translated into English by Edith Grossman as Living to Tell the Tale. He recalls that in February 1950, soon after he had dropped out of university, returned to the coast and become a journalist for El Heraldo, his mother came to find him at the Librería Mundo, a bookshop in ...

A Thousand Sharp Edges

Adam Mars-Jones: Antonio Muñoz Molina, 18 June 2015

In the Night of Time 
by Antonio Muñoz Molina, translated by Edith Grossman.
Tuskar Rock, 641 pp., £16.99, April 2015, 978 1 78125 463 9
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... goats; coats of arms for common last names made of glazed ceramic from Talavera. The cadences of Edith Grossman’s English version (despite a few smudges, perhaps inevitable in long and elaborately structured sentences) can lay claim to full adoptive citizenship rather than the second-class identity papers of translationese, the Nansen passport that is ...

Love Letters

Mona Simpson, 1 September 1988

Love in the Time of Cholera 
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Edith Grossman.
Cape, 352 pp., £11.95, June 1988, 0 224 02570 8
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... It is hard now to recover the thrill of underground discovery, the hand-to-hand ardour, the feeling of claim engendered by A Hundred Years of Solitude. But Love in the Time of Cholera, like Autumn of the Patriarch before it, gives us something altogether new. With gorgeous, lucent writing, full of brilliant stops and starts, majestic whirls, thrilling endings, splendour and humour, the magician of our century takes on psychological realism ...

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