Inside Macondo

Matthew Fishbane explores literature from Colombia beyond the shadow of Gabo, its best known literary icon.

But it’s a truism by now to say that magical realism, which rounded out the postwar writing that became known as the Latin American boom, is just honest reporting in a realm where absurdity reigns. To wit: A station in Bogotá’s cherry-red articulated bus network has been christened “21 Angels” in memory of the schoolchildren who were crushed nearby under a falling hydraulic excavator. It’s not magical realism, see, it’s what actually happened: A flying steam shovel landed on top of a school bus, and 21 children who had nothing to do with war were transformed into angels.

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