Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

Solitude & Company

The Life of Gabriel García Márquez Told with Help from His Friends, Family, Fans, Arguers, Fellow Pranksters, Drunks, and a Few Respectable Souls

by Silvana Paternostro


Translated by Edith Grossman

Irrevent and hopeful, Solitude & Company recounts the life of a boy from the provinces who decided to become a writer. This is the story of how he did it, how little Gabito became Gabriel García Márquez, and of how Gabriel García Márquez survived his own self-creation.

The book is divided into two parts. In the first, BC, before Cien años de soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude), his siblings speak and those who were friends before García Márquez became the universally loved Latin American icon. Those who knew him when he still didn't have a proper English tailor nor an English biographer, and didn't accompany presidents. It gathers together the voices around the boy from the provinces, the sisters and brothers, the childhood friends, the drinking buddies and penniless fellow students.

The second part, AC, describes the man behind the legend that García Márquez became. From Aracataca, to Baranquila, to Bogota, to Paris, to Mexico City, the solitude that García Márquez needed to produce his masterpiece turns out to have been something of a raucous party whenever he wasn't actually writing. Here are the writers Tomás Eloy Martínez, Edmundo Paz Soldán and William and Rose Styron; legendary Spanish agent Carmen Balcells; the translator of A Hundred Years of Solitude Gregory Rabassa; Gabo's brothers Luis Enrique, Jaime, Eligio and Gustavo, and his sisters Aida and Margot; María Luisa Elío, to whom A Hundred Years of Solitude is dedicated; and so much more: a great deal of music, especially the vallenato; the hilarious scenes of several hundred Colombians, García Márquez's chosen delegation, flying to Stockholm for the Nobel Prize celebrations; the time Mario Vargas Llosa punched Gabriel García Márquez in the face; and much, much more.

In Living to Tell the Tale, the first volume of García Márquez's autobiography, Gabo writes: "I am consoled, however, that at times oral history might be better than written, and without knowing it we may be inventing a new genre needed by literature: fiction about fiction." Solitude & Company joins other great oral histories, like Jean Stein and George Plimpton's Edie: American Girl, their oral history biography of Edie Sedgwick, or Barry Gifford's oral history of Jack Kerouac, Jack's Book--an intimate portrait of the most human side of Gabriel García Márquez told in the words of those who knew him best throughout his life.


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Solitude & Company captures Gabo—the man, the times and the places that created him. How a man from the Caribbean made a universe that the world embraced. Everyone who loves Gabriel García Márquez's work will enjoy this wonderful book.”

“If I may be allowed to mix up a metaphor: This is a kaleidoscopic cocktail of voices—vibrant, eloquent, intoxicating—inspired by that endlessly fascinating literary magician Gabriel García Márquez (a.k.a. Gabo/Gabito/etc.). And the cocktail has been mixed and shaken, expertly and knowingly, by Silvana Paternostro. ¡Salud!

““It would be difficult to imagine a writer and editor more qualified to assemble this oral history of Garcia Marquez than Silvana Paternostro. Coming from the world and culture that spawned magical realism, she studied under and has continued to study the master of the genre; yet she has lived in America long enough to have a firm command of its cultural nuances, as well. Add to that her own gifts as an analyst and storyteller, and you have a volume that is both deeply insightful and a fitting testimonial—in short, an absolute gift.”

Journalist and writer Silvana Paternostro was born in 1962 in Barranquilla, Colombia. She has written extensively on Cuba and Central and South America as well as on women's issues, AIDS, revolutionary movements, underground economies, and the intersection of culture with politics and economics.

Her book In the Land of God and Man: Confronting Our Sexual Culture explores gender roles and the effect of government and religion on women's lives in Latin America, and was nominated for the PEN/Martha Abrams Award for First Nonfiction. Her exposé of re-virginization centers in the US appeared in the book Se Habla Español: Voces Latinas en USA, the first anthology of new Latino voices in the United States published in Spanish. Her second book, My Colombian War: A Journey Through the Country I Left Behind (Henry Holt, 2007), mixes memoir with history and reportage to tell the story of Colombia's 40-year-old civil war and uncover the truth about US involvement in the country.

Silvana is a contributing editor of Bomb magazine and a frequent contributor to The New York Times MagazineNewsweek MagazineThe Paris ReviewThe New Republic, and numerous other publications. Her work is frequently translated and re-printed, especially in Latin America. In 1999 she was selected by Time/CNN as one of 50 Latin American Leaders for the New Millennium. She was also associate producer on Che: The Argentine and Che: Guerrilla, a two part movie based on the life of Che Guevara, directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Benicio del Toro, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008

She lives in New York City and Colombia.