Gabriel García Márquez (Ulf Andersen/Getty Images)
Gabriel García Márquez, who doesn’t know Gabriel García Márquez? Affectionately known as Gabo throughout South America, Márquez is widely renowned as one of the most significant authors of the 20th century.
García Márquez was a Colombian author, known for works such as One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera and Chronicle of a Death Foretold. During a career that spanned several decades, his work earned him many accolades including the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1972 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. He is considered an early pioneer of magical realism.
García Márquez was born in Aracataca, Colombia in 1927 and raised by his maternal grandparents, whose ideological and political beliefs would heavily influence his later work. One Hundred Years of Solitude was the culmination of his desire to write a novel based on his grandparents house where he grew up. He struggled with the idea of this novel initially, but once he broke through his writer’s block, he worked on the novel every day for eighteen months. Cien Años de Soledad, the novel’s Spanish title, was released in 1967 and was critically and commercially popular, with William Kennedy calling it, “the first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race.” Carlos Fuentes, fellow novelist, called him the “most popular and perhaps the best Spanish writer since Cervantes.”
Some recurring themes and elements present in his work include solitude, armed conflict, and the setting of a fictional village called Macondo. Magic realism is a staple, with many of his stories featuring events that are seemingly impossible, yet often treated as mundane, commonplace and even expected by the characters within them. Between 1962 and 2004, García Márquez published many novels, short stories and short story collections. He died of pneumonia at age 87 in April 2014.
After his death, then-president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, described him as the greatest Colombian that ever lived. Such a description is typical of the respect that Márquez commanded, a result of his respectable body of work. If you haven’t read any of his work, I suggest you do so now. Seriously, stop right now and check this week’s short story “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World”. That should get you started. After that, I personally recommend One Hundred Years of Solitude, or Love in the Time of Cholera.