Friday, April 18, 2014

R.I.P. Gabriel Garcia Marquez

R.I.P., Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the great Colombian writer who died yesterday at the age of 87. Although he was Colombian, he also lived in various places in Europe and South America, and was regarded as a revered representative of all of Latin America. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, is widely considered to be the greatest writer writing in Spanish, and is one of the greatest writers writing in any language. He wrote several novels, novellas, short story collections, and books of journalism, but is best known for his novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude” (1967), which has sold more than 50 million copies in more than 25 languages. Other notable and also very popular novels are “Love in the Time of Cholera” and “Autumn of the Patriarch.” An indicator of the wide reach of his work: According to the Associated Press (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/18/14), “His flamboyant and melancholy fictional works…outsold everything published in Spanish except the Bible.” He is generally known as a leading representative of Latin America’s “magical realism,” but is also noted as being an astute observer of everyday life. He was influenced by the work of Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner, among others. This great author wrote about Latin America in a way that showed the world its beauty and its sorrows, as he put it himself in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech. This certainly included politics, but, as Michiko Kakutani writes in the New York Times (4/17/14) upon Garcia Marquez’s death, “In the end, it’s not politics, but time and memory and love that stand at the heart of Mr. Garcia Marquez’s work.” This is what draws so many readers, and this is what makes him such a great writer. I have read some of his novels over the years, and at one time was very interested in magical realism, reading several of the great South American writers; in later years, I was less drawn to such writing, but I never stopped admiring the greatness of this writer for the ages, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

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