Gabriel García Márquez Biography

Gabriel 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. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982.

Read more about One Hundred Years of Solitude.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the 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 the Cuban Alejo Carpentier, the Guatemalan Miguel Angel Asturias, the Mexican Agustin Yanez, and the Argentine Leopoldo Marechal, 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. Alejo 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 "Group of Barranquilla." 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.

Read more about William Faulkner, one of Márquez’s literary influences.

The almost cultish reverence for “Gabo,” as Colombians affectionately called him, transformed García Márquez into both a national and Latin American icon. Also known in Colombia as El Maestro and Nuestro Nobel (our Nobel winner), Márquez died of pneumonia in Mexico City at the age of 87 in 2014.

Background on Chronicle of a Death Foretold

Chronicle of a Death Foretold occupies a unique place among García Márquez's works because the narrative is both journalistic and fictitious. He frequently used journalistic techniques in his fiction, but this novel showcases García Márquez's skills as a journalist. 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 himself said that he became a good journalist by reading literature, and that journalism in turn helped him maintain contact with reality, which he considers essential to writing good literature.

After the publication of the novel, journalists poured into Sucre, the town where the real murder that inspired the book took place, in order to interview the surviving characters. In a strange twist, real life replicated the novel—the novel tells the story of a the narrator's return to the Colombian town to resolve the details of a murder twenty years after it had taken place.