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RIP: Acclaimed Colombian Writer Gabriel García Márquez
April 17, 2014
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(Photo: YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Gabriel García Márquez, the great Colombian writer and pioneer of the literary style "magical realism", has died at home in Mexico City at the age of 87.

In awarding him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, the Swedish Academy of Letters said, “Each new work of his is received by expectant critics and readers as an event of world importance."

Born on the coast of Colombia in 1927, García Márquez was raised by his grandmother, whose fantastical stories of handsome drowned men and pirate ships found hundreds of miles from the sea he credited as a formative inspiration on his writing.

García Márquez started his career as a law student in Bogota, but quickly turned to journalism. An early story about a shipwrecked sailor brought him national fame and controversy when his account contradicted that of the naval officials. Throughout his career, he was no stranger to political controversy, and lived much of his life in self-imposed exile in Mexico and Spain.

It was in Mexico that he wrote his most famous novel, One Hundred Years Of Solitude, an allegory of 400 years of Colombian history, told through the saga of the Buendía family. The novel marked the height of the so-called Latin American Boom of the 1960s and '70s, which brought to prominence writers such as Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa and Julio Cortazar. His 1985 novel Love in the Time of Cholera sealed his reputation as Colombia's preeminent novelist, and was made into a 2007 film starring Javier Bardem.

Giller-nominated Canadian poet and novelist Michael Crummey wrote a remembrance of García Márquez on CBC Books today, describing his relationship with One Hundred Years Of Solitude.

I read 100 Years of Solitude in 2005 and was completely convinced by it. There's an authority to the narrative voice in his books that can't be faked. And the thing that struck me most about it was, despite how completely foreign that world was to me in so many ways, I was reminded again and again of Newfoundland. People's relationship to one another, to the church, their familiarity and comfort with the 'nether world,' of things that can't be seen or touched but are accepted as real. The way Marquez moves from low humour to a biblical seriousness, sometimes in the same sentence. Even before I finished the novel, I had made up my mind to try and write a book that did some of the same things with Newfoundland history and folklore. And Galore is largely just a riff on material and approaches I discovered in 100 Years of Solitude.

For more on García Márquez's life and work, see these obituaries in the New York Times, Guardian and The Telegraph.


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