The literary world suffered a great loss Thursday with the passing of Spanish language author Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Marquez, who is widely known for his novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. Although he will be most remembered for mastering the genre of “magical realism” and imbuing intrigue in the seemingly mundane settings of his characters. Marquez had a grasp on what drives the greatest conflicts of civilization — love, death and war.
Many took to social media to lament the passing of the 87-year-old Colombian native. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said via Twitter, “A thousand years of solitude and sadness because of the death of the greatest Colombian of all time. Such giants never die.” Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy chimed in tweeting, “Affection and admiration for the essential and universal writer of Spanish literature in the second half of the 20th century.” President Barack Obama expressed condolences too, calling Marquez one of the greatest visionary writers.
Marquez died Thursday in Mexico City after visiting a hospital for dehydration and a lung infection. He was heavily influenced by his upbringing in Colombia and the civil war that ravaged his country during the 1950s and 1960s. He credited his grandfather, who instead of sharing fairy tales when he was younger regaled him with stories of anti-clerics fighting the conservative government, as contributing to his leftist, liberal ideals. He learned to combat the injustices through his writing, becoming a journalist early on his career. He would go on to purchase a majority interest in Colombian newspaper Cambio in the late 1990s. This was financed with his Nobel Prize money.
He later told the Associated Press, “I’m a journalist. I’ve always been a journalist. My books couldn’t have been written if I weren’t a journalist, because all the material was taken from reality.”
Marquez fled Colombia in 1981, facing persecution from the Colombian government for his supposed ties to left-wing guerrillas. He would go on to settle in Mexico City with his family, and was reportedly so inspired by the work of William Faulkner he felt it important to explore the southern United States. No matter the location of his home, Latin American themes remained prevalent in his work and inspired a number of novels throughout his lifetime. The novels where these themes may be seen best include: “The Autumn of the Patriarch,” “News of a Kidnapping” and, of course, “One Hundred Years of Solitude.”
Marquez’s cousin Margarita Marquez told CNN on Thursday, “We’re left with the memories and the admiration to all Colombians and also Mexicans, because I think Gabo was half Mexican and half Colombian. He’s just as admired in Mexico as he is in (his native) Colombia, all of Latin America and throughout the world.”
This has sparked somewhat of a controversy lately, with Colombia and Mexico honoring Marquez early next week with ceremonies. In Marquez’s birthplace three days of mourning have been ordered by Colombian President Santos and flags are at half-staff throughout the country. Many Colombians feel the author should be honored exclusively there, but others disagree, arguing Mexico was the place he chose to raise his family and die.
There will be a memorial ceremony in Mexico City on Monday, with his relatives in attendance.
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