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World honours Garcia Marquez’s magical literary legacy

AFP

Hailed as the creative genius who forever changed modern Spanish-language literature, Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez was on Friday mourned by readers and statesmen worldwide, with tributes pouring in from Cuba to France.

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Garcia Marquez died in his Mexico City home on Thursday, with his wife Mercedes and their two sons at his side. He was 87.

Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos said the writer’s passing will be followed by “a thousand years of loneliness and sadness for the death of the greatest Colombian of all time'', declaring three days of national mourning.

Known affectionately as "Gabo," the author of "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and "Love in the Time of Cholera" was one of the world's most popular Latin American novelists and godfather of a literary movement that witnessed a continent in turmoil.

The long-time journalist befriended Cuban leader Fidel Castro, was once punched by fellow Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa and joked that he wrote to make his friends love him.

US President Barack Obama said "the world has lost one of its greatest visionary writers", while French President François Hollande paid tribute to "a literary giant" who was "one of the most influential South American intellectuals of our time".

Chilean novelist Isabel Allende grieved on her Facebook page. "My maestro has died. I will not mourn him because I have not lost him; I will continue to read his words over and over."

Peter Englund, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy in Stockholm where Garcia Marquez in 1982 picked up his Nobel Prize in literature, said, “A great artist is gone, but his grand art remains with us. Most authors are only shadows, but Gabriel Garcia Marquez belonged to those who cast a shadow, and he will continue to do so long after his death.”

Cuban author and essayist Miguel Barnet said, “Cuba suffers from this death, as do all readers of a writer who is an icon.”

Even Peruvian author Vargas Llosa, with whom he once famously feuded, described him as a “great man” and said his works “gave the literature of our language great reach and prestige”.

Drew inspiration from his homeland

The cause of death was not immediately clear but Garcia Marquez had been hospitalised for pneumonia on March 31 and was discharged a week later to recover in his home.

The family said his body would be cremated, and officials announced a public tribute will be held in Mexico City on Monday.

Born March 6, 1927, in the village of Aracataca on Colombia's Caribbean coast, Garcia Marquez was the son of a telegraph operator.

He was raised by his grandparents and aunts in a tropical culture influenced by the heritage of Spanish settlers, indigenous populations and black slaves. His grandfather was a retired colonel.

The exotic legends of his homeland inspired him to write profusely. His masterpiece, "One Hundred Years of Solitude," was translated into 35 languages and sold more than 30 million copies.

The book, published in 1967, is a historical and literary saga about a family from the imaginary Caribbean village of Macondo between the 19th and 20th centuries – a novel that turned the man with the moustache and thick eyebrows into an international star.

It was rich in "magical realism", which Garcia Marquez has described as the notion that, behind reality as we perceive it, there is much more going on that we do not understand.

His other famous books include "Chronicle of a Death Foretold," "The General in His Labyrinth" and his autobiography "Living to Tell the Tale".

His final novel, "Memories of My Melancholy Whores", was published in 2004.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP)

 

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