Five books to help you understand the people of Colombia

Library Colombia

Photo: ActuaLit (Flickr)

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Colombia is a diverse country and so are its people with their multitude of origins, languages, food music and more. Here are five books that tell the story of Colombia and will help you understand the enigma of its people.

One Hundred Years of Solitude

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is Colombia’s most celebrated author and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. Visitors could read any of his works before arriving in Colombia and gain an understanding of the country, from journalistic efforts such as Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor to novels including Love in The Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude, but the latter is considered the top choice for encapsulating the story of a nation with Garcia Marquez’s much-loved magical realism.

The Sound of Things Falling

 Juan Gabriel Vasquez is the new kid on the block and The Sound of Things Falling is his most popular work to date, telling a story of love and loss that is mostly set in Bogota. The book has won numerous international awards and strikes a chord with visitors because one of its main characters, Ricardo Laverde, is married to an American woman, Elena Fritts, who experiences a familiar culture clash when she moves to Bogota. This is an ambitious novel that paints a moving portrait of the capital in the 1980s.

The Making of Modern Colombia

The best way to understand the people of Colombia is to understand something of their history and The Making of Modern Colombia is widely considered to be the number one choice when it comes to providing a concise and vivid summary of everything the nation has lived through. The book offers a thorough yet digestible academic history of Colombia, charting the country’s development from colonialization to its modern day existence, and explains how a nation with such diverse origins came together.

One River

Colombia’s Amazon region is the source of much mystery and intrigue and it was the focus of Colombia’s award-winning and Oscar nominated movie, The Embrace of the Serpent, which was partly inspired by this book. One River is the story of the author’s explorations in the Amazon region, a biography of his former professor, Richard Evans Shultes and the story of the Amazon itself, charting some of the incredible anthropological and scientific changes the region has undergone in less than a century.

Colombia a comedy of errors

“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you,” was a joke often attributed to Oscar Wilde and this advice is followed by the authors of Colombia a comedy of errors. This brilliantly funny book tells the story of the country’s 48m Colombians through their history, culture and society in a fully-illustrated book with more than 160 colorful cartoons. The book became a bestseller in Colombia in the first month of its release and is considered required reading for new arrivals to the country.

Books that tell the story of a nation? Read about Colombia to learn about it and enjoy every page!

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