Tuesday 21 November 2017

Colombian novelist Garcia Marquez "Gabo" dies aged 87

Colombian Nobel Prize laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Colombian Nobel Prize laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Colombian author whose beguiling stories of love and longing brought Latin America to life for millions of readers and put magical realism on the literary map, died on Thursday.

He was 87.

A prolific writer who started out as a newspaper reporter, Garcia Marquez's masterpiece was "One Hundred Years of Solitude," a dream-like, dynastic epic that helped him win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.

Garcia Marquez died at his home in Mexico City, a source close to his family said. He had returned home from hospital last week after what doctors said was a bout of pneumonia. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed the death.

Known affectionately to friends and fans as "Gabo", Garcia Marquez was Latin America's best-known author and most beloved author and his books have sold in the tens of millions.

Although he produced stories, essays and several short novels such as "Leaf Storm" and "No One Writes to the Colonel" in the 1950s and early 1960s, he struggled for years to find his voice as a novelist.

Colombian Nobel Prize laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez (L) talks with Antonio Garcia (C), second in command of the 5,000-strong Colombian National Liberation Army (ELN) and Francisco Galan, commissioner of the ELN, after a meeting in Havana, in this December 16, 2005 file photo. Garcia Marquez, the Colombian author whose beguiling stories of love and longing brought Latin America to life for millions of readers and put magical realism on the literary map, died on April 17, 2014. He was 87. Known affectionately to friends and fans as
Colombian Nobel Prize laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez (L) talks with Antonio Garcia (C), second in command of the 5,000-strong Colombian National Liberation Army (ELN) and Francisco Galan, commissioner of the ELN, after a meeting in Havana, in this December 16, 2005 file photo. Garcia Marquez, the Colombian author whose beguiling stories of love and longing brought Latin America to life for millions of readers and put magical realism on the literary map, died on April 17, 2014. He was 87. Known affectionately to friends and fans as "Gabo", he is arguably Latin America's best-known author and his books have sold in the tens of millions. REUTERS/Claudia Daut (CUBA - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY OBITUARY)
Colombian Nobel Prize laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez gestures as he attends a dinner in U.S. President Barack Obama's honor at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City in this April 16, 2009 REUTERS/Eliana Aponte/Files (MEXICO - Tags: SOCIETY POLITICS OBITUARY)
In this March 26, 2007 photo, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, right, speaks with Colombian Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez at the opening ceremony of International Congress of Spanish Language in Cartagena, Colombia. Marquez died Thursday April 17, 2014 at his home in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Cesar Carrion, SNE)
In this Oct. 20,1995 photo, PLO Leader Yasser Arafat greets Nobel laureate Colombian Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez during the closing ceremonies of the Non-Aligned Summit in Cartagena, Colombia. In the background is Colombian President Ernesto Samper. Marquez died Thursday April 17, 2014 at his home in Mexico City. (AP Poto/Roger Richards,File)
Colombian Nobel Prize laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez listens to a speech during a journalism seminar in Monterrey in this September 1, 2008 photo. Garcia Marquez, the Colombian author whose beguiling stories of love and longing brought Latin America to life for millions of readers and put magical realism on the literary map, died on April 17, 2014. He was 87. Known affectionately to friends and fans as "Gabo", he is arguably Latin America's best-known author and his books have sold in the tens of millions. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo/Files (MEXICO - Tags: SOCIETY OBITUARY)
Colombian Nobel Prize laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez gestures upon his arrival at Diagonal Palace in Barcelona in this April 28, 2005 photo. Garcia Marquez, the Colombian author whose beguiling stories of love and longing brought Latin America to life for millions of readers and put magical realism on the literary map, died on April 17, 2014. He was 87. Known affectionately to friends and fans as "Gabo", he is arguably Latin America's best-known author and his books have sold in the tens of millions. REUTERS/Albert Gea/Files (SPAIN - Tags: SOCIETY OBITUARY)
Cuban then President Fidel Castro and Colombian Nobel Prize laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez (L) attend the inauguration of the first Cuban national Olympic games in Havana's Revolution Square in this November 26, 2002 photo. Garcia Marquez, the Colombian author whose beguiling stories of love and longing brought Latin America to life for millions of readers and put magical realism on the literary map, died on April 17, 2014. He was 87. Known affectionately to friends and fans as "Gabo", he is arguably Latin America's best-known author and his books have sold in the tens of millions. REUTERS/Rafael Perez/Files (CUBA - Tags: SPORT POLITICS SOCIETY OBITUARY)
Raul Castro (L), then chief of Cuba's army and brother of then Cuba's President Fidel Castro, Colombian Nobel Prize laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez (C) and Nicaraguan novelist Tomas Borge (R) attend a military parade in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution in Havana in this December 2, 2006 photo. Garcia Marquez, the Colombian author whose beguiling stories of love and longing brought Latin America to life for millions of readers and put magical realism on the literary map, died on April 17, 2014. He was 87. Known affectionately to friends and fans as "Gabo", he is arguably Latin America's best-known author and his books have sold in the tens of millions. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/Files (CUBA - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY OBITUARY)
Colombian Nobel Prize laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez listens to a speech during the New Journalism Prize awards ceremony at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MARCO) in Monterrey in this October 2, 2007 photo. Garcia Marquez, the Colombian author whose beguiling stories of love and longing brought Latin America to life for millions of readers and put magical realism on the literary map, died on April 17, 2014. He was 87. Known affectionately to friends and fans as "Gabo", he is arguably Latin America's best-known author and his books have sold in the tens of millions. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo/Files (MEXICO - Tags: SOCIETY OBITUARY)
Colombian Nobel Prize laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez stands outside his house on his 87th birthday in Mexico City in this March 6, 2014 photo. Garcia Marquez, the Colombian author whose beguiling stories of love and longing brought Latin America to life for millions of readers and put magical realism on the literary map, died on April 17, 2014. He was 87. Known affectionately to friends and fans as "Gabo", he is arguably Latin America's best-known author and his books have sold in the tens of millions. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/Files (MEXICO - Tags: SOCIETY OBITUARY)
Colombian then President-elect Juan Manuel Santos (L) poses with Colombian Nobel Prize laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez after a visit to Marquez's residence in Mexico City in this July 22, 2010 photo. Garcia Marquez, the Colombian author whose beguiling stories of love and longing brought Latin America to life for millions of readers and put magical realism on the literary map, died on April 17, 2014. He was 87. Known affectionately to friends and fans as "Gabo", he is arguably Latin America's best-known author and his books have sold in the tens of millions. REUTERS/Antonio Nava/Pool/Files (MEXICO - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY OBITUARY)
In this Dec. 8, 1982 photo, Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez shows his Nobel Prize medal after he delivered his Nobel Lecture in Stockholm, Sweden. Marquez died Thursday April 17, 2014 at his home in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Bjorn Elgstrand, Pool, File)
In this March 6, 2014 file photo, Colombian Nobel Literature laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez greets fans and reporters outside his home on his 87th birthday in Mexico City. Marquez died Thursday April 17, 2014 at his home in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)
FILE - This undated file photo of Colombian Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez is seen in an unknown location. Marquez died Thursday April 17, 2014 at his home in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Hamilton, File)
An ambulance is seen parked inside the garage of the home of Nobel prize-winning Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez in Mexico City March 8, 2014. Garcia Marquez, 87, had been hospitalised since March 31 for dehydration and a lung and urinary infection and was discharged from the hospital on Tuesday. The author was taken to his home by ambulance and where he will continue his recovery process, according to hospital authorities. REUTERS/Bernardo Montoya (MEXICO - Tags: HEALTH ENTERTAINMENT)
Journalists stand outside the house of Nobel prize-winning Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez as an ambulance parks reverses into the garage of the author's home in Mexico City March 8, 2014. Garcia Marquez, 87, had been hospitalised since March 31 for dehydration and a lung and urinary infection and was discharged from the hospital on Tuesday. The author was taken to his home by ambulance and where he will continue his recovery process, according to hospital authorities. REUTERS/Bernardo Montoya (MEXICO - Tags: HEALTH ENTERTAINMENT)

But he then found it in dramatic fashion with "One Hundred Years of Solitude," an instant success on publication in 1967 that was dubbed "Latin America's Don Quixote" by late Mexican author Carlos Fuentes.

It tells the story of seven generations of the Buendia family in the fictional village of Macondo, based on the languid town of Aracataca close to Colombia's Caribbean coast where Garcia Marquez was born on March 6, 1927 and raised by his maternal grandparents.

In the novel, Garcia Marquez combines miraculous and supernatural events with the details of everyday life and the political realities of Latin America.

At times comical, others tragic, it sold more than 30 million copies and helped fuel a boom in Latin American fiction.

Garcia Marquez said he found inspiration for the novel by drawing on childhood memories of his grandmother's stories - laced with folklore and superstition but delivered with the straightest of faces.

"She told things that sounded supernatural and fantastic, but she told them with complete naturalness," he said in a 1981 interview. "I discovered that what I had to do was believe in them myself, and write them with the same expression with which my grandmother told them: with a brick face."

Garcia Marquez was one of the prime exponents of magical realism, a genre he described as embodying "myth, magic and other extraordinary phenomenon."

It was a turbulent period in much of Latin America, when chaos was often the norm and reality verged on the surreal, and magical realism struck a chord.

"In his novels and short stories we are led into this peculiar place where the miraculous and the real converge. The extravagant flight of his own fantasy combines with traditional folk tales and facts, literary allusions and tangible - at times obtrusively graphic - descriptions approaching the matter-of-factness of reportaje," the Swedish Academy said when it awarded Garcia Marquez the Nobel Prize in 1982.

Although "One Hundred Years of Solitude" was his most popular creation, other classics from Garcia Marquez included "Autumn of the Patriarch", "Love in the Time of Cholera" and "Chronicle of a Death Foretold".

Reuters

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