Gabriel García Márquez

(1928-2014), Colombian

Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez was born in Aracataca, Colombia, in 1928, the eldest of sixteen children. After graduating from the University of Bogota, he worked as a reporter for the Colombian newspaper El Espectador and as a foreign correspondent in Rome, Paris, Barcelona, Caracas, and New York. His most famous work, One Hundred Years of Solitude, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

García Márquez frequently uses journalistic techniques in his fiction. For example, in most of his novels he creates a high level of interest in the very first line of the text, and employs many journalistic details based on close observation throughout the entire novel. García Márquez said that he became an accomplished journalist by reading literature, and that journalism in turn helped him maintain contact with reality, which he considers essential to writing good literature.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the standard Latin-American novel did little besides realistically portray of regional or national life and customs. In terms of narrative technique, this fiction functioned within the realist tradition of the nineteenth century. In the late 1940s, Latin-American novels changed, as they had been influenced by the modernist novels of Woolf, Joyce, and Faulkner. Such modernist novelists were well-known among Latin American intellectuals by the 1930s.

Along with contemporaries such as Alejo Carpentier in Cuba, Miguel Angel Asturias in Guatemala, Agustin Yanez in Mexico, and Leopoldo Marechal in Argentina, Gabriel García Márquez contributed novels that insisted on the right of invention. The books were concerned with the construction of new realities, not the reflection of existing themes. One technique that came into being in this fiction is magic realism, which is the incorporation of fantastic or mythical elements matter-of-factly into otherwise realistic fiction. Carpentier was the first to use the term when he recognized the tendency of his region's authors to illustrate the mundane by means of the extraordinary.

Colombia prides itself on being a stronghold of Spanish tradition. García Márquez became part of a coastal group that wanted to leave Bogota and the conservative attitudes prevalent in much of Colombia. Coastal towns like Barranquilla were more supportive of innovative and imaginative literature. García Márquez and his contemporaries involved in this coastal movement were called the "Barranquilla Group." García Márquez's first novel, Leafstorm, strongly reflects Faulkner's influence in its structure and narrative point of view. In the 1940s, García Márquez read and learned from Faulkner's novels. García Márquez, who was originally planning to study law after graduating from university, said that when he first read Faulkner, he knew he had to become a writer. García Márquez died of pneumonia in 2014 at the age of 87.

Gabriel García Márquez Quotes

A person doesn't die when he should but when he can.

One minute of reconciliation is worth more than a whole life of friendship.

It always amuses me that the biggest praise for my work comes for the imagination, while the truth is that there's not a single line in all my work that does not have a basis in reality.

Novels

In Evil Hour
1962
One Hundred Years of Solitude
1967
The Autumn of the Patriarch
1975
Love in the Time of Cholera
1985
The General in His Labyrinth
1989
Of Love and Other Demons
1994

Novellas

Leaf Storm
1955
No One Writes to the Colonel
1961
The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Eréndira and Her Heartless Grandmother
1972
Chronicle of a Death Foretold
1981
Memories of My Melancholy Whores
2004

Short story collections

Eyes of a Blue Dog
1947
A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings
1955
Big Mama's Funeral
1962
One of These Days
1962
Collected Stories
1984
Strange Pilgrims
1993

Non-fiction

The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor
1970
The Solitude of Latin America
1982
The Fragrance of Guava
1982, with Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza
Clandestine in Chile
1986
Changing the History of Africa: Angola and Namibia
1991, with David Deutschmann
News of a Kidnapping
1996
A Country for Children
1998
Living to Tell the Tale
2002