52 Titles: Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ “Tales of a Shipwrecked Sailor”

Part of the reason I started this project was to read more from the authors I already know and love — Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of my favourites, and I intend on reading everything that’s been translated from its original Spanish before the year is out.

No better place to start than with one of his earliest works, which is a series he wrote while working as a journalist in Colombia, back when it was under a dictatorship. In the foreword, Garcia Marquez says he was assigned, unwillingly, by his editor to record the paid-for tale of a shipwrecked sailor. Any journo would balk at working on a story that’s been paid for, but as he starts talking to the sailor, it develops into something more than just the story of a navyman who was washed overboard and drifted for eight days before landing back on the shores of Colombia. Why did rescue planes spot him drifting in the ocean but turn back? Why did the ship not turn back for him when they must have noticed he and several others went overboard? Why did several life-rafts also magically end up in the water with them?

Even when Marquez writes non-fiction, it has flashes of the straightforward language and his moody, magical realism. Really wonderful and instructive — both on why you should take on dud assignments, and how to make journalism read like literary non-fiction.






2 responses to “52 Titles: Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ “Tales of a Shipwrecked Sailor””

  1. Orwell's Bastard Avatar

    “Back when Colombia was under a dictatorship?”

    It hasn’t exactly been a shining example of enlightenment under the “democratically elected” government of Alvaro Uribe …

  2. caniceleung Avatar

    you’re right… my knowledge of south american political history is basic, and that is an essential read. on paper, it was the last dictatorship via military coup, but perhaps not in practice. thanks for pointing that out.

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