Was Gabo an Irishman?
What a silly question, you may say. (If you’re asking yourself, Gabo who?, check out my brief post last week explaining who Colombia’s dearest writer was). Gabo, that most Colombian of writers, was certainly not from Ireland.
Or was he?
You’ll be able to figure that out when you read the new anthology on Gabriel García Márquez, Was Gabo an Irishman? This anthology, published by Papen Press, brings together authors from around the world to pay homage to this beloved writer. I was invited to participate in this anthology (my essay makes up Chapter 9 of the book) that probes the following questions: How much does life in today’s Colombia reflect the work of Gabriel García Márquez? What is it really like to live in the country he left behind? How does the experience of living in Colombia deepen one’s understanding of works like One Hundred Years of Solitude? And, Do his words provide the key to unlocking the enigma that is Colombia?
Twenty six personal essays by writers from nine countries, all of whom lived at some point in Colombia, discuss how Gabo introduced them to a country where reality can be difficult to pin down, a country with a long history of conflict that somehow doesn’t seem to affect the inhabitant’s high levels of love and happiness. The essays explore politics, love, solitude, guerrilla warriors, funerals, the Colombian Caribbean, the lure of Latin men, music, and more.
One of the editors, Caroline Doherty de Novoa, commented, “It is a testament to the universality of Gabo’s appeal that the writers in this collection include novelists, journalists, food writers, bloggers, political commentators, short story writers, anthropologists and humanitarian workers.”
To see the scope of the book, just take a look at the back cover of the anthology, which states:
“In Bogotá, a Spanish humanitarian worker attends a funeral without a body, as a storm of yellow butterflies swirls outside. In the jungle, an English anthropologist finds a tiny peace community fighting to preserve their way of life. And, somewhere in the Andes, an Australian coffee farmer confronts a guava-throwing witch in his tree. This collection brings together 26 personal essays by writers from across the world, all of whom have lived in Gabriel García Márquez’s homeland. For some, his words are the key to unlocking the enigma of Colombia. For others, living in the land of magic realism brings them a new understanding of his works. With magical rain, young lovers, grumpy old men, ghosts, conflict, politics, heartache, music, madness and more, these non-fiction stories are at once both singularly Colombian and universal in them.”
“Was Gabo an Irishman?” was released on April 17, 2015. In Colombia it’s available at La Madriguera del Conejo (don’t be startled by the name, it’s a bookstore). It is also available from all Amazon sites. You can also get it on Kindle.
Three editors were the brains behind the book, and these expats all have interesting ties to Colombia. Caroline Doherty de Novoa is the author of the novel Dancing with Statues (and she’s Irish, so you can begin to get the connection). Victoria Kellaway is the author of the popular Banana Skin Flip Flops blog and the book, Colombia, a Comedy of Errors. Richard McColl is the host of the Colombia Calling radio show and author of several guides to Colombia.
There will be a book signing on Friday May 1, at Corferias, during the Bogota Book Fair. Come on over to the Macondo pavillion (Pabellón 4, towards the back) from 2pm to 4pm to get your copy of Was Gabo an Irishman, signed by the editors or contributors (I’ll be there – so come on down and say hi!).
Update on May 4th – Thanks to everyone that came by for the book signing! It was a complete success, with lots of interest in the book.