Nobel Laureate Gabriel García Márquez Passes Away At 87
“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.”
― Gabriel García Márquez
Growing up on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast, he had an art of crafting intoxicating fiction. One of the most respected and prominent writers of his generation, Gabriel García Márquez, whose stories brought to readers Latin America’s passion, violence and superstition, passed away on Thursday night.
Known among friends as “Gabo”, Nobel Laureate Marquez produced stories, essays—The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor, The Solitude of Latin America—and several novellas—Leaf Storm, No One Writes To Colonel, etc. However it was not until the publication of One Hundred Years of Solitude, in the year 1967, that he got the taste of success.
One Hundred Years is set in the fictional village of Macondo and narrates the story of seven generations of the Buendia family. This is by far one of the most loved novels written by Marquez as it beautifully combines miraculous and supernatural fictional events with the political scenario of Latin America.
“‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ was the first novel in which Latin Americans recognized themselves, that defined them, celebrated their passion, their intensity, their spirituality and superstition, their grand propensity for failure,” biographer Gerald Martin told the Associated Press.
Not to mention that the first sentence of One Hundred Years is regarded as the most celebrated opening line of all times—
“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.”
So what was it that made him such a prolific writer? Marquez in one of his interviews said that he drew on the memories of his grandmother’s stories, which were laced with folklore and superstition, to write his novels.
“She told things that sounded supernatural and fantastic, but she told them with complete naturalness. I discovered that what I had to do was believe in them myself, and write them with the same expression with which my grandmother told them: with a brick face,” he said.
With extravagant and melancholy fictional works—Love in the Time of Cholera, Autumn of the Patriarch, In Evil Hour and Of Love and Other Demons, and Memories of My Melancholy Whores—to his credit, Marquez was one of the prime advocates of magical realism—a genre that he described as exemplifying “myth, magic and other extraordinary phenomenon.”
“In his novels and short stories we are led into this peculiar place where the miraculous and the real converge. The extravagant flight of his own fantasy combines with traditional folk tales and facts, literary allusions and tangible—at times obtrusively graphic—descriptions approaching the matter-of-factness of reportage,” the Swedish Academy said when it awarded Garcia Marquez the Nobel Prize in the year 1982.
My first encounter with Marquez’ writing was in college. And if truth be told, I had fallen in love with him by the time I reached the end of the book. I remember to this day how I would save my pocket money so I could get my hands on one of his works. While I have a lot many books of his in my to-read list, my personal favorite will always be the Chronicle of a Death Foretold.
A book that narrates the story of Santiago Nasar’s brutal death, Chronicle is a perfect embodiment of culture and kinship structures of Latin America. The thing that I like the most about this book is the way Marquez uncovers the arbitrariness of words, and how it is the speakers and the readers’ belief in them that gives them the power.
“They all saw him come out, and they all understood that now he knew they were going to kill him”
Simply put, with Marquez’s passing the field of literature has indeed lost a man who created history with his words.
As American President Barack Obama said, “The world has lost one of its greatest visionary writers…”
Which of his works do you like the most? Write your opinions in the comment box below.
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