Mar 13, 2024 - World

The "lost" novel of Gabriel García Márquez released

The late Gabriel García Márquez and the cover of his newly released "lost" novel, "Until August."

The late Gabriel García Márquez and the cover of his newly released "lost" novel, "Until August." Photo: Leonardo Cendamo/Getty Images/Knopf

A novel that Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez had ordered destroyed before his death has been released and is drawing mixed reviews.

The big picture: "Until August" was the final fictional project of the Colombian-born García Márquez that he tried to finish as he battled dementia and was published by his sons in Spanish and English this week against their last father's wishes.

  • The unpublished novel was held at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin a decade after García Márquez died.

What they're saying: "In an act of betrayal, we decided to put his readers' pleasure ahead of all other considerations," his sons, Rodrigo and Gonzalo García Barcha, write in the new book's preface.

  • They say the book was much better than they remembered it, and it's possible their father's "fading faculties that kept him from finishing the book also kept him from realizing how good it was."

Zoom in: "Until August" follows Ana Magdalena Bach, a middle-aged woman who makes a yearly pilgrimage to an unnamed Caribbean island to visit the resting place of her late mother.

  • While on the annual trip, Ana begins to seek out extramarital affairs with unknown men even though she believes her marriage to a provincial conservatory director is healthy.
  • It is through this journey that she discovers her mom's secret.

The intrigue: An Axios review of the novel (really a novella) found "Until August" uneven with moments of repetition about characters, a sign that García Márquez never had time to really edit his final work.

  • It lacked the magical realism of previous works like "One Hundred Years of Solitude" or "Love in the Time of Cholera," but nonetheless gave the reading a sympathetic protagonist in Ana, his first female main character.
  • The novel takes the reader on a tour of romantic boleros, salsa, and lonely waltzes as Ana battles the desire for untapped love.

Between the lines: Though contemporary Latin American writers have expounded on how much García Márquez influenced them, "Until August" hints at how much those writers influenced him in his later years.

  • "Until August" in tone and character development is very similar to works by Colombian writer Pilar Quintana.

The bottom line: "Until August" is a raw work by an aging literary legend that needs to be read in the context of his total catalog.

  • It is nowhere near the same category as his masterful works, but it is an attempt to use themes of painful love and examinations of complicated human relationships to say goodbye as his memories fade away.

Go deeper: Forget magic realism — Latin American women are forging a new literary canon

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