“Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers it in order to recount it.”

Gabriel Marquez mention this in the epigraph of his autobiographical sketch Living to tell the tale. He is one of my all time favourite writers. This is an incredible book from an incredible writer. Even though I was having this copy for a while, I couldn’t complete reading this book, until the year end holidays. Thanks to the time spared while traveling, I managed to read the book in whole. I truly enjoyed this fascinating journey into a somewhat mixed style personal story with truthful memoirs, myths and smell of south America.

The book was set with a perfect start, with a birth. Well, not quite the biological birth, but what the author call as the “birth as a writer”. The author was 22 years old. He and his mother then set of for a journey to Baranquilla, with a plan to sell their ancestor house. A touch of nostalgia ignites there in his mind and a whole lot of imagination started build around to give a fantastic setup. A setup, where his imagination overtakes history.

I believe that, these South/Latin American countries often brought powerful stories, perhaps because of the difficult situations the authors go though in their childhood. Pablo Neruda, my favourite poet, had sketched it beautifully in many of his works. Like Neruda, Gabriel Marquez as well could portray a vivid sketch of the social situation in Columbia. Even in this book, it is touching when he says that he had joyful memories of his childhood, in spite of the turmoil in Columbia during his early life. Poverty and social agonies can be painful, but then a childhood has its beautiful moments, for any child.

In all, a very very satisfying book. The book, even though autobiographical, is not quite written in chronologically. It contains truth, sincerity to life, myths, imagination and also some humour. The translator Edit Grossman should get the credit for bringing this outstanding work to English readers. I don’t know much about the original work in Spanish, but you could hardly make out that this is translated.