M‡rquez's first novel in a decade, this brief book is a poignant look at love as one man experiences it in the waning years of his life. The narrator, an unnamed Colombian news reporter, is about to turn 90. Unmarried, never swayed by genuine romantic love, and extraordinarily ugly, he has slept only with prostitutes throughout his life. For his birthday, he wants one thing: to share his bed with a young virgin. His birthday wish leads him to Rosa Cabarcas, who runs the best brothel in town. Rosa fills his request with a 14-year-old girl who works in a factory sewing buttons to support her family. On the night of their meeting, Rosa makes up a special drink to settle the girl's nerves, and upon consuming it, she falls asleep. So the narrator finds her when he arrives. The incident has a transformative effect on him, however, as he experiences unexpected pleasure in simply watching the girl sleep. He meets with her regularly just to observe her in slumber, enjoying an enduring tenderness for the first time in place of the usual, fleeting passion. This is a beautifully written account of one man's emotional awakening. A remarkable addition to an already remarkable body of work, the narrative will satisfy M‡rquez's many fans, while whetting their appetites for more from the master.

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