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Colombia has produced a wealth of literary talent over the years. Here are five of the best modern and classical Colombian novelists.
One of the most celebrated Colombian writers of the late 20th century, Rosero’s work engages with Colombia’s tumultuous and violent political history, bringing to life the violence and fear that once threatened to engulf the country. He has been awarded various prizes for his fiction, including the National Literature Prize of Colombia. Rosero’s Good Offices offers a bitter satire of the Catholic Church and its role in Colombian public life whilst The Armies is a savage depiction of the violence of Colombia’s Civil War.
Restrepo has been acclaimed one of the best South American writers since the days of the Latin American Boom, but as with other contemporary novelists she has rejected the Magic Realism which characterized that movement. She utilizes the conventions of reportage and detective fiction to create vivid depictions of the effects that violence can have on a society and on individuals, as is most evident in her novel, Delirium.
Vasquez Vasquez is another contemporary Colombian novelist who prefers to engage with the current affairs of the country and the realities of urban life than the largely rural and romantic genre of Magic Realism. His works are thrillers which owe more to Joseph Conrad and Philip Roth than to García Márquez. The Informers is a particularly dark and disturbing take on the corruption rife in Colombia in the latter half of the 20th century, whilst The Secret History of Costaguana is a more light hearted picaresque tale written as an affectionate response to Conrad’s Nostromo.
A politician and soldier, Isaacs’ literary career was short but highly significant. He only published one novel, Maria, which was released in 1867. Yet it came to be regarded as the pinnacle of the Latin American romanticism, which was at that time sweeping the subcontinent. It is still considered one of the most important works of 19th-century Spanish–American Literature and it offers a perspective on the nascent Colombian society of the time.
The most celebrated of all Colombian novelists, García Márquez has achieved a level of worldwide fame and popularity which few contemporary novelists can match. He was the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982 and is considered the writer who kick started the Latin American Literature Boom in the late 1960s with the publication of his Magic Realist novel One Hundred Years of Solitude. Since then he has released a host of critically acclaimed works, including the short story collection Strange Pilgrims and Love in the Time of Cholera. His legacy dominates Latin American literature generally and Colombian literature in particular, however as we have seen many contemporary writers have an ambivalent relationship to his influence.