Obama, other world leaders mourn famous novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez of ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ fame

Posted by News Express | 19 April 2014 | 3,101 times

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Tributes have been flooding in for Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who has died at the age of 87.

The Colombian-born author was one of the most revered and influential writers of his generation whose masterpiece ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ won the top prize for literature in 1982.

Garcia Marquez brought Latin America’s charm and maddening contradictions to life in the minds of millions of devoted readers across the globe.

He became the best-known practitioner of “magical realism,” a blending of fantastic elements into portrayals of daily life that made the extraordinary seem almost routine.

Today presidents and writers praised the legacy of the writer, known affectionately as Gabo, who died at his home in Mexico City on Thursday.

Flags are flying at half mast in several countries in Latin America while Colombia has announced three days of national mourning.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos took to Twitter and wrote: “A thousand years of solitude and sadness because of the death of the greatest Colombian of all time! Such giants never die.”

US President Barack Obama said the world had “lost one of its greatest visionary writers”.

Colombian pop star Shakira said “Gabo”, as the author was affectionately known, would “always be in my heart”.

“Your life, dear Gabo, will be remembered by all of us as a unique and singular gift,” the singer said.

While former US President Bill Clinton said: “I was always amazed by his unique gifts of imagination, clarity of thought, and emotional honesty. I was honoured to be his friend.”

Gabriel Garcia Marquez was widely seen as the Spanish language’s most popular writer since Miguel de Cervantes in the 17th century. His extraordinary literary celebrity spawned comparisons with Mark Twain and Charles Dickens.

His flamboyant and melancholy works - among them ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold,’ ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ and ‘The Autumn of the Patriarch’ – outsold everything published in Spanish except the Bible.

The epic 1967 novel ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ sold more than 50 million copies in more than 25 languages and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.

The first sentence of ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ has become one of the most famous opening lines of all time: “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”

Garcia Marquez was born in Aracataca, a small Colombian town near the Caribbean coast on March 6, 1927 - the eldest of 11 children.

He was raised for ten years by his grandmother and grandfather, while his parents moved around the country to open a series of homeopathic pharmacies.

His grandparents’ tales would provide grist for Garcia Marquez’s fiction and Aracataca became the model for Macondo, the village surrounded by banana plantations at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains where ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ is set.

“I have often been told by the family that I started recounting things, stories and so on, almost since I was born,” Garcia Marquez once told an interviewer. “Ever since I could speak.”

Garcia Marquez attempted to study law at university but became bored and dedicated himself to journalism.

He then turned his hand to writing but during the 18 months he was writing ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ the family were so poor they pawned their belongings.

Garcia Marquez courted some controversy by remaining loyal to former Cuban leader Fidel Castro as questions were raised about human rights violations.

His politics found him denied a US visa for many years.

After a 1981 run-in with Colombia’s government in which he was accused of sympathizing with M-19 rebels and sending money to a Venezuelan guerrilla group, he moved to Mexico City, where he lived most of the time for the rest of this life.

Garcia Marquez turned down offers of diplomatic posts and spurned attempts to draft him to run for Colombia’s presidency, though he did get involved in behind-the-scenes peace mediation efforts between Colombia’s government and leftist rebels.

His memory began to fail as he entered his 80s, friends said. His last book, ‘Memories of My Melancholy Whores,’ was published in 2004.

He is survived by his wife, his two sons, Rodrigo, a film director, and Gonzalo, a graphic designer, seven brothers and sisters and one half-sister. His family said late on Thursday that his remains will be cremated and a private ceremony held.

•Credit (except headline): Daily Express (Britain). Photo shows the late Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Source: News Express

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