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Gabriel García Márquez, one of the most famous Latin American writers to ever live

By- Angela Padron

Gabriel García Márquez was born in Aracataca, Colombia on March 6, 1927. He is best known for writing magical realism—fictional works that combine realistic elements with fantastical ones. At first, García Márquez studied law at the National University of Colombia in Bogotá, but he soon abandoned that field to follow his true passion—writing. In addition to becoming a novelist, García Márquez was also a short story writer, screenwriter, and a journalist.

During the early 1950s, García Márquez worked as a journalist for several Colombian newspapers, including El UniversalEl Heraldo, and El Espectador. His first novel, La hojarasca (The Leaf Storm), was published in 1955. For the next two years, García Márquez  lived in Europe and worked as a foreign correspondent. Soon after, he worked as a freelance journalist in Paris and wrote two novels, which were published several years later. In 1961, García Márquez moved to Mexico City. During the early part of the 1960s, he continued as a journalist, writing for Prensa Latina in Cuba, as well as for several companies in Mexico City. Facing financial hardship, García Márquez decided to sequester himself for a few years to finish work on a novel. The turning point in his career happened when he finished Cien años de soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude), a magical realism novel, which was published in 1967. The novel drew national acclaim and soon gained worldwide popularity, selling tens of millions of copies. Due in part to the incredible writing in One Hundred Years of Solitude, García Márquez was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982.

From 1967 to 1975, García Márquez lived in Spain, though he still had a home in Mexico City, as well as one in Paris. He also traveled often to Cuba, where he befriended Cuban Leader Fidel Castro. This relationship would prove to be costly, however. The United States banned García Márquez from entering the country for almost thirty years due to his relationships with certain controversial political and governmental figures, including Castro.

Here are some fun facts about Gabriel García Márquez:

  • He was the oldest of eleven children.
  • His nickname was “Gabo.”
  • More copies of his books have been sold than any others in Spanish, other than the Bible!
  • He was married to another writer, Mercedes Barcha Pardo, for over fifty years.
  • Another very popular novel of his, El amor en los tiempos del cólera (1985), or Love in the Time of Cholera, was in part based on his parents’ relationship and was adapted into a 2007 movie.
  • He wrote seven novels in all during his lifetime.
  • He was allowed to obtain a visa to enter the U.S. in the late 1990s, when President Bill Clinton lifted the Cuba travel ban.

Gabriel García Márquez died on April 17, 2014, at the age of 87. Prior to his death, he wrote a memoir called Vivir para contarla (Living to Tell the Tale), which focuses on the first thirty years of his life, as well as Memoria de mis putas tristes (Memories of My Melancholy Whores), a fictional memoir about a lonely man who discovers love in an unusual way.

One thing is for sure: Gabriel García Márquez established himself as a gifted storyteller who will forever be known as one of the most famous Latin American writers ever to live.

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