We report with great sadness that Gabriel Garcia Marquez has passed away at the age of 87. Novelist, screenwriter, playwright and journalist, Marquez will perhaps be remembered as the most famous South American writer of all time. He also paved the way for many other novelists and poets on the continent, including Julio Cortazar, Mario Vargas Llosa and Isabel Allende, all of whom have become unofficial laureates for the literary communities within their respective countries.
While Marquez worked as a journalist for a number of years, he would only receive literary success nearly forty years into his life. In 1967, he published his most famous work, the pioneering One Hundred Years of Solitude. The result of several months of tireless writing, the novel was an immediate success, and became an exemplar text for authors around the world seeking to tell their local stories to a global audience. Magic Realism, the idiosyncratic style he used in the novel, was emulated by hundreds of authors including Salman Rushdie in India, Italo Calvino in Italy and Peter Carey in Australia. Learn more about Magic Realism Here
The novel–along with his other two successful works, Love in the Time of Cholera and The Autumn of the Patriarch–did not only open doors for a whole new type of storytelling, but they effectively permitted the literary world to become a global effort. As the opening line of Solitude shows us, Marquez was interested in writing a whole new style of literature that blended art and politics:
Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.
Magic Realism blends actual historical events with fantastical additions that often reflect the mythological or religious beliefs of a certain people. Unlike the realist or naturalist traditions once the norm in English and American literature, the genre addresses one of the most challenging aspects of reading regional literature. One Hundred Years of Solitude was a groundbreaking demonstration of how a people’s history could be told within a fictional lens without relinquishing the power of superstition for the sake of historical truth. The novel would even lead to the creation of a genre called “historiographic metafiction”, where the past becomes a playground for storytelling and the authority of history can be skillfully interrogated.
Blending the inevitability of violence with the allure of magic, One Hundred Years of Solitude will be read for centuries to come. Until then, we should celebrate the life of one of the most innovative writers of our time, someone who carried the weight of his nation on his shoulders and became a national icon for it. Rest in peace, Gabo.