Gerald Martin’s comprehensive biography of Gabriel García Márquez is so complete that we may never need another.
It would be intimidating under any circumstances to attempt a biography of Gabriel García Márquez. After all, this is a Nobel Prize winner credited with writing the world’s first truly global novel. That’s rather exalted ground upon which to tread.
But you have to extend particular sympathy to anyone who attempts the job from now on. After reading Gerald Martin’s Gabriel García Márquez: A Life, it’s not clear that there’s anything left to say.
For one thing, Martin has had extraordinary access. For years Martin insisted that he was only the “tolerated” biographer of García Márquez. But in 2006 the celebrated author publicly anointed Martin as his “official” biographer. Over the course of 17 years, says Martin, he has spent the total of at least one full month with his subject, in various public and private settings. García Márquez’s family have come to think of Martin as “el tío Yeral.”
And the massive list of interviews acknowledged in Martin’s book includes everyone from family members to famed translators Edith Grossman and Gregory Rabassa to peers like Mario Vargas Llosa and Carlos Fuentes.
If Martin has left any stone unturned it’s hard to imagine what that might be.
The result is a doorstopper biography (672 pages) that shifts through a mountain of evidence to track García Márquez from infancy through his current status as a living literary legend. The book takes readers around the globe with García Márquez, through the creation of his seven novels, 10 nonfiction works, and various novellas and short stories. It’s almost an embarrassment of riches.