Not having a clear picture of the political situation in Columbia in 1955 I had to apprise myself of the politics before really understanding the book.
According to my reading, Columbia was enmeshed in civil wars and "bloody repressions" which claimed at least 250,000 lives between 1948 and 1962. " Marquez left Columbia for Paris in 1955. He wasn't popular with the Columbian dictators and realized that his freedom as a writer would be significantly impacted by the violence.
This book is based on a real event in a small town .Some people pasted lampoons on doors, places of business, and wherever they could affix the broadside. Since many of these lampoons were gossipy and slanderous and accused townspeople of hidden secrets, disarray broke out in the town. Fights, killings, reprisals of all sorts embroiled the citizens in a siege of revenge.
Marquez uses this incident and the political climate of that time to create his story. Not only are these gossip sheets accusing middle class citizens of unacceptable behavior, sexual escapades,adultery— but the political opponents of the present regime start printing subversive pamphlets.
The mayor declares a curfew, a boy is killed by the police, the local dentist and the major get involved in a verbal confrontation, people pack up and leave town.
There are dreams, fortune tellers, humor, and even the beginnings of magic realism in this book—a portend of what is to come in later books.
The characters are interesting—as is the discussion of politics and how one disreputable governing group is simply the same as the next one in Columbia.
This is an early book and quite accessible—and a portend of the riches to follow.