What we learned from author Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel Peace Prize winner

A Nobel Peace Prize winner and perhaps one of the most famous Latin American writers, Gabriel García Márquez died April 17, 2014, at the age of 87. The master of magic realism, the influential Colombian writer is best known for his novels One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera. Gabriel García Márquez and his work are ripe for research into his handling of magic realism and how he shaped not only Latin American literature, but also all literature at the end of the 20th century. If you have never read any of his works, now would be the perfect time to start.

One of the many essential quotes made by Gabriel García Márquez during his successful writing career. (Credit: Enrique Limón)

One of the many essential quotes made by Gabriel García Márquez during his successful writing career. (Credit: Enrique Limón)

Gabriel García Márquez’s influences

Born in 1927 in the Colombian coast town of Aracataca, author Gabriel García Márquez was raised by his grandparents, who not only shaped his life, but his writing as well. His grandmother and grandfather, the stories they told him, and the town he grew up in was the impetus for most of his work and the magic realism that sets his writing apart.

In “Writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Who Gave Voice To Latin America, Dies” by Mandalit Del Barco on April 17, 2014, for NPR, wrote “Garcia Marquez was part of a Latin American literature boom in the 1960s and ’70s, along with Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes and Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa.” The book fit into the zeitgeist of the times and the upheaval those two decades wrought.

Gabriel García Márquez didn’t become one of the most famous Latin American writers until his 40s. His novels incorporated his leftist politics and what he once described as “the reality I know, about the reality of Latin America.” Later, when he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1982, he entitled his speech “The Solitude of Latin America” giving a voice to all the people in Latin America.

Impact in Latin America

While people around the world read and loved the work of author Gabriel García Márquez, it is among his fellow Colombians and other Latin Americans that he earned perhaps the deepest love and acclaim. García Márquez: The Man and His Work by Gene H. Bell-Villada, published in 2010, offers a comprehensive biography of the man. Bel-Villada highlights how Gabriel García Márquez came to be one of the most famous Latin American writers.

Bel-Villada wrote, “By creating a narrative of ordinary Latin folk that is without a hint of insincerity or condescension, and by articulating a kind of history “from below” that is nonetheless joyous and shuns the dual traps of either idealized heroes or piteous victimization, García Márquez has given poetry, magic, and dignity to Latin American daily life and can thus be thought of in all justice as a ‘people’s writer.’”

Reading Gabriel García Márquez

But according to Juliana Jiménez Jaramillo’s April 17, 2014, blog post for SlateWhat Gabriel García Márquez Means to His Fellow Colombians,” nothing compares to reading Gabriel García Márquez as a Colombian and in his native tongue. “What is it like to read García Márquez in Spanish, as a Colombian? I’ve tried many times to express this to non-Spanish speakers, but explaining the beauty of one language in another language is no easy task,” she wrote.

100 Years of Solitude has been translated into 30 languages. While fellow Colombians like Jiménez Jaramillo may feel that the translations do not do justice to the mastery of magic realism that is Gabriel García Márquez, nevertheless he still remains the most famous Latin American writer that the world has known.

Want to learn more about Gabriel Garcia Marquez? Check out Questia—particularly the section on Central and South American literature

What did Gabriel García Márquez’s work mean to you, and can anyone fill his shoes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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