José Gabriel García Márquez, Colombian author and Nobel Prize recipient for literature, died yesterday at the age of 87 after a slow decline in health, aggravated in recent weeks. The author of which is undoubtedly the most important novel of Latin America, One Hundred Years of Solitude, his death, although announced, has the whole world mourning.
García Márquez was born in Aracataca, a village lost in the Colombian Caribbean, on Sunday March 6, 1927 at nine in the morning, as he detailed in his memoirs. Raised by his maternal grandparents, a retired colonel and a superstitious woman, who both would mark his literature, ‘Gabo’- the nickname given by Eduardo Zalamea Borda, Deputy Director of the newspaper ‘El Espectador’, where at age 20 he published his first short story, ‘The Third Resignation‘- studied in Sucre, and Barranquilla.
His first writings were in the high school newspaper under the pseudonym of Javier Garcés, until in 1947 he enrolled in the Faculty of Law of the National University of Bogota. Then he began to collaborate with journals such as ‘Universal’, ‘The Herald’ and, finally, «El Espectador», thanks to his friend Álvaro Mutis. The Rotary sends him in 1955 as a correspondent to Europe: Geneva, Rome, (where he studied cinematography) and Paris.
His first novel, «Dead Leaves«, which reflects a strong influence of William Faulkner, is published that same year by Diana, of Mexico. The plot takes place in Macondo, the imaginary people he would immortalize years later in the novel that won him universal recognition: «One Hundred Years of Solitude«. «Dead Leaves» contains some of the constants in his work, such as rain, memory, war and death.
After the triumph of the Cuban revolution in 1959, Garcia Marquez moved to Havana, where a militancy of left was born and a friendship with Fidel Castro that will last until his last breath was born. In 1961, on a trip to New York as Envoy of the Prensa Latina Agency, he starred in an incident with a group of armed Cuban immigrants. In those dates he published «No One Write to the Colonel» and moved to Mexico, a country where he would intermittently reside and where he dedicated time to write screenplays with Carlos Fuentes (although the first which was filmed, in 1964, was «The Golden Cockerel«, based on a story by Juan Rulfo )).
In 1966 the first fragments of his masterpiece were published in magazines in Bogota, Lima and Paris, the first edition was shown one year later in Buenos Aires. «One Hundred Years of Solitude» brought immediate success and that same year he moved to Barcelona, where he would reside until 1975, year in which he returned to Mexico. Since then, alternating his life in Mexico City with long stays in Cartagena de Indias.
The great American saga that describes «One hundred years of solitude«, embodied in the Buendía family, was the summit of 1960s magical realism and of Latin American literature . Later on came other enduring works like «The Autumn of the Patriarch» (1975), preferred by the author; «Chronicle of a death foretold» (1981),»Love in the time of cholera» (1987), » The general in his labyrinth » (1989) or «News of a kidnapping» (1997).
His health problems began in 1999, when he had to enter at a clinic in Bogota to treat lymphoma. The writer suffered from years of a progressive, neuronal deterioration as revealed by his brother Jaime, which prevented him from continuing the publication of his memoirs, which only came to light in a first volume, «Living to tell the tale«, in 2002. Two years later he delivered it to the printing press his latest work,»Memory of my melancholy whores«, received with little enthusiasm by critics.
He is survived by his wife, Mercedes Barcha, – whom he married in 1958 and which had known 15 years before – and his sons Rodrigo and Gonzalo, filmmaker, and graphic designer.