Thursday, April 17, 2014

Famed Author Gabriel García Márquez Dies (Updated)

One of Latin America's most famous authors, Gabriel García Márquez, has passed away on Thursday afternoon at the age of 87.

Fernanda Familiar, a spokeswoman for the García Márquez family, tweeted that the Colombian-born Nobel laureate died at his residence in Mexico City:

She wrote "Gabriel García Márquez died.  Mercedes and her sons, Rodrigo and Gonzalo have authorized me to provide the information.  What a profound sadness..."

A statement from the García Márquez family issued on Wednesday mentioned that he was in "very fragile" health following a nine-day hospitalization to treat lung and urinary tract infections.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos alluded to García Márquez' best-known novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, via his Twitter account.

"One thousand years of solitude and sadness over the death of the greatest Colombian of all time," he tweeted.  Santos claimed earlier this week that García Márquez had pneumonia and was in "delicate health which is a reality of his age."
Other message of condolences were issued by international leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama and President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico as well as artists from the Americas.

"He gave me the motivation and freedom to launch myself into writing because in his books I found my own family, my country, characters familiar to me, the color and rhythm and abundance of my continent," said Chilean novelist Isabel Allende.  

"A great writer has died.  His works helped spread and provide prestige to Latin American literature...I send my condolences to his family," said came from fellow Nobel laureate and literary great Mario Vargas Llosa.  The Peruvian author along with the likes of García Márquez, Julio Cortázar of Argentina and Mexico's Carlos Fuentes spearheaded a Latin American Boom in literature during the 1960s and 70s.
The hashtag #GraciasGabo has become a trending topic on Twitter as people worldwide have taken to social networks to express their appreciation of the renown author and novelist. 

(Update: Our biography of García Márquez can be read below the page break).   

García Márquez was born on March 6, 1927 in Aracataca, a town near Colombia's Pacific coast that would later serve as the inspiration for Cien años de soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude). He became a journalist in his early twenties and wrote columns for several local newspapers including Bogotá's El Espectador and Baranquilla's El Heraldo.

La Hojarsca (The Leaf Storm) was published in 1955 as García Márquez' first novel but it was the publishing of One Hundred Years of Solitude twelve years later that put him on the global literary map.  The fictional text relating the multi-generational story of the Buendía family received near-universal acclaim when it was first released.  (One literary critic called it a "South American Genesis.")  It's themes of magical realism and loneliness resonated with readers and the book has been translated into thirty-seven languages and has sold more than twenty million copies.

One Hundred Years may be regarded as García Márquez' masterpiece, but the early 1980s can be classified as his most successful period as a novelist.  Published in 1981, Crónica de una muerte anunciada (Chronicle of a Death Foretold) highlighted García Márquez' skills as a journalist rather than as a novelist.  Four years later, he used his parent's relationships and his own experience of waiting years to marry his wife (now widow) as the basis to write El amor en los tiempos del cólera (Love in the Time of Cholera).    

In 1982, García Márquez became the first Colombian and the fourth Latin American at the time to earn the Nobel Prize in literature.  The honor was given by the selection committee in recognition "for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent's life and conflicts."

In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, García Márquez discussed various topics such as European colonialism in the Americas and mistrust from abroad of Latin American social movements.  "The Solitude of Latin America" speech ended with a quote from one of his favorite authors and a call to rethink the way we view the world:
On a day like today, my master William Faulkner said, "I decline to accept the end of man". I would fall unworthy of standing in this place that was his, if I were not fully aware that the colossal tragedy he refused to recognize thirty-two years ago is now, for the first time since the beginning of humanity, nothing more than a simple scientific possibility. Faced with this awesome reality that must have seemed a mere utopia through all of human time, we, the inventors of tales, who will believe anything, feel entitled to believe that it is not yet too late to engage in the creation of the opposite utopia. A new and sweeping utopia of life, where no one will be able to decide for others how they die, where love will prove true and happiness be possible, and where the races condemned to one hundred years of solitude will have, at last and forever, a second opportunity on earth.
Perhaps the most controversial aspect in the life of García Márquez was his longtime and close friendship with Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.  Several of his fellow authors such as Octavio Paz of Mexico and Cuban Reinaldo Arenas criticized that relationship while Vargas Llosa called him a "courtesan" of the Castro regime for not denouncing a 2003 crackdown on dissidents.  Despite his ties to Castro, García Márquez was also friends with former U.S. President Bill Clinton and he used the fictional 1975 novel El otoño del patriarca (Autumn of the Patriarch) to criticize other authoritarian governments in Latin America.

Over the past fifteen years García Márquez was hurt by his share of health problems.  In 1999, he was diagnosed for lymphatic cancer and he subsequently underwent a successful surgery.  His final novel, Memoria de mis putas tristes (Memories of My Melancholy Whores) was published five years later though it's unknown how many unfinished manuscripts he has written over the past decade.  His brother Jaime announced in 2012 that García Márquez was suffering from symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, which the author then denied.       

Author, novelist, journalist.  It is very difficult to succinctly describe the legacy of Gabriel García Márquez in the world of literature and even his effect on pop culture.  Therefore, we leave the last words to García Márquez himself:
“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.”
Video Source - AFP via YouTube ("Colombia writer Gabriel García Márquez, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature in 1982, celebrated his 87th birthday on Thursday in Mexico City. He briefly appeared outside his house where journalists were waiting".)

Online Sources including updates- UPI; Twitter; Reuters; The New York Times; El Comercio;; Parade Magazine; La Nacion;

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