Marquez, master of magical realism, dies at 87

Updated: 2014-04-18 07:40


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Politics, literary feuds

Like many of his Latin American literary contemporaries, Garcia Marquez became increasingly involved in politics.

Marquez, master of magical realism, dies at 87

Journalists gather outside of the house of the writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez in Mexico City April 17, 2014. 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. [Photo/Agencies]

Marquez, master of magical realism, dies at 87
 In photos: Life of Garcia Marquez
He spent time in post-revolution Cuba and developed a close friendship with communist leader Fidel Castro.

"A man of cosmic talent with the generosity of a child, a man for tomorrow," Castro wrote of his friend in 2003. "His literature is authentic proof of his sensibility and the fact that he will never give up his origins, his Latin American inspiration and loyalty to the truth."

The United States banned Garcia Marquez from visiting for a decade after he set up the New York branch of communist Cuba's official news agency and was accused of funding leftist guerrillas at home.

Despite his reputation as a left-leaning intellectual, critics say Garcia Marquez didn't do as much as he could have done to help negotiate an end to Colombia's long conflict, which has killed tens of thousands of people.

Instead, he left his homeland and went to live in Mexico. The damning criticism he leveled at his homeland still rings heavily in the ears of some Colombians.

He was also a protagonist in one of literature's most talked-about feuds with fellow Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa of Peru.

The writers, who were once friends, stopped speaking to each other after a day in 1976 when Vargas Llosa gave Garcia Marquez a black eye in a dispute - depending on who one believes - over politics or Vargas Llosa's wife.

But Vargas Llosa paid tribute to Garcia Marquez on Thursday, calling him a "great writer" whose novels would live on.

Politics and literary spats aside, Garcia Marquez's writing pace slowed down in the late 1990s.

A heavy smoker for most of his life, he was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer in 1999, although the disease went into remission after chemotherapy treatment.

None of his latest works achieved the success of his earlier novels.

One of those, Love in the Time of Cholera, told the story of a 50-year love affair inspired by his parents' courtship.

It was made into a movie starring Spanish actor Javier Bardem in 2007 but many critics were disappointed and said capturing the sensuous romance of Garcia Marquez's novel had proved too tough a challenge.

Garcia Marquez's most recent work of fiction, Memories of My Melancholy Whores, got mixed reviews when it was released in 2004. The short novel is about a 90-year-old man's obsession with a 14-year-old virgin, a theme some readers found disturbing.

Garcia Marquez is survived by Mercedes Barcha, his wife of more than 55 years, and by two sons, Rodrigo and Gonzalo.


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