You’ve packed your bags, drawn up your itinerary, and now Colombia beckons! What next? Before embarking on your Colombia adventure, prepare yourself with these essential books.
The Project Cordillera team have drawn up the five essential reads for your trip. These books are an eclectic mix of subjects, styles, and authors. Sit back and lose yourself in the best of Colombian literature.
The late Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of Colombia’s national treasures. In Love in the Time of Cholera he captures the essence of the country’s Caribbean coast.
Set in the turn of the 20th century, the backdrop is an impassioned love story of a man who, in his old age, chases an unrequited love from his adolescent-past.
Although the actual city where the story takes place is fictional, it bears a lot of resemblance to the colorful, colonial city of Cartagena. Furthermore, there are further similarities with the historic port city of Barranquilla.
Before you visit these old cities, be sure to read Love in the Time of Cholera. You will be transported to the region’s rich and bustling past. Furthermore, Marquez helps the reader understand the ins and outs of the coastal region and the lives of its previous inhabitants.
Delirium by Laura Restrepo
Fast forward to more recent times, Laura Restrepo paints a startlingly realistic picture of the raging drug war in 1980’s Bogota.
The mystery novel follows the storyline of the protagonist, Aguilar. Throughout the novel, he is searching through his wife Augustina’s past in an attempt to help her regain her sanity.
Through tracing back to the characters Augustina’s past, Delirium gives the reader a perspective of how far Colombia has come from its turbulent history. Furthermore, although a fictional story, Restrepo helps show travelers about how the violence of the decade could still affect present-day Colombia.
Fernando González is one of the iconic writers of Colombian literature. Viaje a Pie documents his Colombian travels between December 21st of 1928 and January 18th, 1929.
González traveled around Western Colombia with his friend Benjamín Correa. Through a combination of walking, horseback and train travel, González and Correa’s route takes them from Envigado to Antioquia, then Caldas to Cali, Armenia, and finally to the area, we know today as Los Nevados National Park.
Throughout their travels, González describes the abrupt changes in the landscapes. Therefore, this book is a great insight into Colombia’s biodiversity.
Furthermore, he documents how the mindset of the Andean people differs from that on the communities based in the Pacific and other areas of the country.
Once you come to Colombia, you will have the opportunity to visit Vallejo’s House in Envigado which today is turned into a museum and café.
Bolivar: American Liberator by Marie Arana
Anyone visiting South American should read up on Simon Bolivar. In this book, Marie Arana tells the story of how Bolivar liberated many of the continent’s modern-countries from their Spanish conquerors.
Despite being born in Lima, Perú, Bolivar’s has an especially connected past with Colombia. He passed away in 1830 in Santa Marta.
In this biography, readers gain an understanding of why countless plazas, streets, buildings, and neighborhoods are dedicated to this man.
Andrés Caicedo is a Colombian writer born in Cali. The city it’s set in is a Colombian’s idea of ‘La Sucursal del Cielo’. It is recognized for its salsa scene, vibrant culture and welcoming people.
The main character in ¡Que Viva la Música! is María del Carmena, a woman of high-class society in Cali. However, despite her wealth, she becomes tired with the life she is living. She starts experiencing other places, music, parties, and adventures with people from the lower class.
Through ¡Que Viva la Música!, the author attempts to show the contrasts in class that make up Colombian culture, and how they experience by the younger generation.