Gabriel Garcia Marquez had this remarkable ability to write and present overarching and universal—but incredibly intimate and personal—truths from his fiction. More importantly, at least for me, he also had the ability to tie me in, as a Honduran, into this broader sense of identity. The story of discovering ice is the story of my great grandparents and of this broader panamerican story that unites all of latin america. The story of Macondo is the story of our people’s original sin. It was through Marquez that I discovered that I had a people.
I don’t speak of this often because it is difficult for many, myself included, to understand but I never really knew where “home” was for me. I am Honduran but Honduras is a place I do not understand. I speak the language, I have family there, my grandfathers are buried there, and I visit their graves, but I do not know its story. It is a place who knows my story and whispers of generations of my kin who helped build the country and sang its songs, but I speak back with a halting and apparent accent. And then there is here. I know the story of the United States, but I have never felt this to be my true home. I have no grandparents buried here, I was not born here, and the ground does not know my family’s name. I can sing its song, but I lack context and history.
Marquez’s stories allowed me to reach back to understand my parents, my grandparents, and the generations that preceded them. He gave me a glimpse into truths I did not know I had forgotten. But every time I would read his stories, in either Spanish or English, I would always whisper “This is true. This happened. This is my story.” I know the united fruit companies because it happened to my family, I know the discovery of ice because it the story of my great grandparents, I know the rises and falls of the family and the pig tails because it’s all true. Because through those stories I could sing the song of my family and of Honduras and of myself without an accent.
It is difficult to explain but in the most personal terms I can say this: Gabriel Garcia Marquez allowed me to feel like I belonged somewhere. His writing allowed me to reconcile this huge portion of myself and my identity. And for that I will be forever thankful.