With a Google Doodle of the mythical city Macondo on Tuesday, Google honored the birthday of author Gabriel García Márquez, a prolific author, journalist, and Nobel Laureate. Márquez is best known for his canonical novels and for popularizing the literary genre of magical realism.
Márquez’s breakthrough novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, is a 400-page tome, a testament to his talent for vivid imagery (and his verbose inclinations). But not all of his works are multigenerational anthologies. In fact, Márquez wrote a number of novels, novellas, and short stories that can be enjoyed in single sitting.
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Here are five of Márquez’s best afternoon reads:
Published in 1994, Márquez claims this novel is based on a folktale told to him by his grandmother. It tells the story of 12 year-old Sierva María, who is bitten by a rabid dog at the beginning of the book. She is thought to be possessed and subsequently sent to a convent for an exorcism. Of Love and Other Demons is only 160 pages long, and takes the average reader three hours and 15 minutes to finish, according to readinglength.com.
This collection of short stories, published in 1955, was Márquez’s first book. It contains “Leaf Storm,” in which Márquez introduces the mythical town of Macondo, besieged by torrential rain, into the magical realism universe. The entire collection is coincidentally also 160 pages long and takes about three hours and 15 minutes to read.
Published in 1981, this novella is a murder mystery with Márquez’s characteristic magical touch. With shades of Kafka and Camus, Márquez tells the story of Santiago Nasar’s murder at the hands of the Vicario brothers and the trial that follows. The story is a mere 128 pages long, and only requires around two and a half hours of time to complete.
This novella, originally published in 1961, strays furthest from Márquez’s preferred genre of magical realism. Ironically, Márquez said this was his best writing. The story describes the impoverished life of a retired colonel, who eagerly awaits his weekly mail delivery, always hoping that someday he will receive the 15 years overdue pension owed to him by the military. It’s only 80 pages long and takes around one hour and 40 minutes to read.
1. In Evil Hour
Published in 1962, just before Márquez wrote One Hundred Years of Solitude, this novel describes the harrowing circumstances of a riverside town in Colombia beset by a mysterious evil curse. The longest of the bunch, the novel is 192 pages long and takes the average reader nearly four hours to finish.