The Familiar Name Of BP's Fated Oil Field

The oil field where BP was drilling is called Macondo. To some readers of fiction, that name will sound familiar. That's because Macondo is the name of an invented town, the setting for the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude by Nobel Prize-winning writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

One final note on an unlikely intersection between the Gulf oil spill and literature.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

The oil field where BP was drilling is called Macondo. To some readers of fiction, that name will sound familiar.

SIEGEL: That's because Macondo is the name of an invented town, the setting for the novel, "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Nobel Prize-winning writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez. And it's no average town. Macondo is also an entire civilization.

NORRIS: Garcia Marquez wrote at the town's founding, it was a truly happy village where no one was over 30 years of age and where no one had died.

SIEGEL: Now, as we've been able to work out regarding that other Macondo, the oil field, BP auctioned off the naming rights in a fundraiser for the United Way. And according to BP, a group of its employees won those rights. We haven't been able to confirm their intention with the name. But the employees were Colombian, just like the writer Garcia Marquez.

NORRIS: If the oil field and the Gulf of Mexico is in fact named after that fictional village, then the novel's ending may have been eerily prescient. And so here is a spoiler alert. We're going to tell you the ending of "One Hundred Years of Solitude." Close your ears if you haven't read it yet. Macondo self-destructs. It is a cursed place.

SIEGEL: Or as it was put more poetically by the author, it was foreseen that the city of mirrors or mirages would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men.

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