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5 Essential Colombian Reads

Packing your bags for your international internship? Don’t forget to pack (or more likely download) a few good novels set in your destination.

Guidebooks are all very well but to really get a feeling of the character of a place, to get to know its less touristy sights and to start to appreciate its cultural weight, novels can be much more evocative and expansive.

Here are our top 5 Colombia based novels to help you get your fictional fix –

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Marquez

This would be in our top 5 of books set anywhere; it is a wonderful, engrossing and enlightening tale told in the magical realism style Márquez is so famous for. The book follows the intertwining lives of a somewhat eccentric family told against the backdrop of a changing nation.

•Area Covered – somewhere in Colombia’s interior

•Bonus Fact – the village in the book is based on Márquez’s hometown of Aracataca

The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vásquez

This brilliant and thrilling novel set explores the far-reaching and often very personal impact of Colombia’s notorious narcotics trade and the subsequent 1990s drug wars. It is a standout reminder of how far the country has come in recent years.

•Area Covered – Bogotá

•Bonus Fact – the English translation won the Dublin Literary Award – an award with a €100,000 prize

The Vortex by José Eustasio Rivera Salas

An informative yet enjoyable and readable novel set in the jungles of Colombia. Through the eyes of the protagonists we learn about the hardships of trying to survive the intense conditions of the rainforest and the lives of those who worked under often appalling conditions in the rubber farms and factories.

•Area Covered – the Amazon Basin

•Bonus Fact – the author’s hometown was renamed Rivera in his honour

The Fruit Palace by Charles Nicholl

When this was first published in 1985 it was sold as a piece travel writing but in the years since Nicholl has admitted to getting quite “creative” with the facts. Due, in part, to this looseness with the truth, the book reads as a gripping and entertaining novel set on the edges of mainstream society.

•Area Covered – mainly Santa Marta

•Bonus Fact – the book first started life as an article sent to, and rejected by, Rolling Stone magazine

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Marquez

Yes, Márquez is on the list twice, he’s just that good. Set in the late 1880s this engrossing novel offers up love in its many forms to be examined, explored and compared. You’ll get lost in the twists and turns of the plot and the actions of the characters give much food for thought.

•Area Covered – a coastal town similar to Cartagena

•Bonus Fact – was made into movie in 2007, the first of Márquez’s books to get the Hollywood treatment

What would you add to this list? Share your top Colombian reads recommendations below.

Sources: Top 10 Colombia Books, Medellin Living, Eustasio Rivera.

Photos and blog by Nicola Ball

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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!