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Colombian writer and Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez greets fans and reporters outside his home in Mexico City on March 6. (EPA/Landov)

Writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Who Gave Voice To Latin America, Dies

Apr 17, 2014

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Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez was awarded the 1982 Nobel Prize in literature "for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent's life and conflicts".

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Latin American author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1982, died Thursday. He was 87. Garcia Marquez, the master of a style known as magic realism, was and remains Latin America's best-known writer.

His novels were filled with miraculous and enchanting events and characters; love and madness; wars, politics, dreams and death. And everything he had written, Garcia Marquez once said, he knew or heard before he was 8 years old.

A Writer Shaped By His Beginnings

Garcia Marquez was born in 1927 in the Colombian coast town of Aracataca, which experienced a boom after a U.S. fruit company arrived. In a 1984 interview with NPR, he said his writing was forever shaped by the grandparents who raised him as a young child:

"There was a real dichotomy in me because, on one hand ... there was the world of my grandfather; a world of stark reality, of civil wars he told me about, since he had been a colonel in the last civil war. And then, on the other hand, there was the world of my grandmother, which was full of fantasy, completely outside of reality."

Garcia Marquez's grandfather, grandmother, their stories and their town became the raw material for his most famous work.

"One Hundred Years of Solitude is a towering book of enormous influence worldwide. And it is also as close as one could get to a perfect book," says Ilan Stavans, who wrote a biography of the author's early years, including the time Garcia Marquez spent as a newspaper journalist.

"He was a nobody," Stavans says. "He was really an unknown journalist and author of short stories, just beginning to make his career. He was, at that point, coming close to 40, and the fame and celebrity and this standing that he has as a literary giant of the 20th century really all coalesced in that particular moment when the book was published."

It was a unique moment in time, and One Hundred Years of Solitude struck a chord, says Gerald Martin, another Garcia Marquez biographer.

"You had to be in the 1960s. You had to be in the world of the Beatles and third-world revolution, psychedelia, lots of things, to understand now what impact the first page of that book had," Martin says. "It seemed to be a kind of writing that everybody had been waiting for. They didn't know they were waiting for it till it came. It was just one of those zeitgeist things."

Here's a taste of the books first lines:

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. At that time, Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs. The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point."

Martin says, "The first two lines, the first time you read them, you just felt, 'I've read this before. Where does this come from?' which is what [Garcia Marquez] felt when he first ... thought up the first line of the book."

Writing 'The Reality Of Latin America'

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, with whom Garcia Marquez differed sharply in his political beliefs. The Colombian got his leftist leanings from his grandfather, and they shaped his writing.

"I write mostly about the reality I know, about the reality of Latin America," Garcia Marquez said. "Any interpretation of this reality in literature must be political. I cannot escape my own ideology when I interpret reality in my books; it's inseparable."

His 10 novels include The Autumn of the Patriarch, about a Latin American dictator, but they also include a love story about two elderly people married to other people, Love in the Time of Cholera, which was made into a film in 2007.

'He Gives A Voice To Latin America'

Garcia Marquez titled his 1982 Nobel Prize acceptance speech "The Solitude of Latin America."

In it, he spoke about Latin America's wars, military coups, dictatorships and ethnocide:

"We, the inventors of tales, who will believe anything, feel entitled to believe that it is not yet too late to engage in the creation of ... a new and sweeping utopia of life, where no one will be able to decide for others how they die, where love will prove true and happiness be possible, and where the races condemned to one hundred years of solitude will have, at last and forever, a second opportunity on earth."

Chilean novelist Ariel Dorfman says the speech was one of the author's most important messages to the world.

"Garcia Marquez is speaking about all the people who are marginal to history, who have not had a voice," Dorfman says. "He gives a voice to all those who died. He gives a voice to all those who are not born yet. He gives a voice to Latin America."

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Colombian writer and Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez greets fans and reporters outside his home in Mexico City on March 6. (EPA/Landov)

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Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez was awarded the 1982 Nobel Prize in literature "for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent's life and conflicts".

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Nobel Literature laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez greets fans and reporters outside his home on his birthday in Mexico City, on March 6, 2014. (AP)

Nobel Prize-Winning Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez Dies At 87

Apr 17, 2014

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Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez was awarded the 1982 Nobel Prize in literature "for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent's life and conflicts".

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Nobel Prize-winning Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, author of One Hundred Years of Solitude, has died in Mexico City. He was 87.

The Associated Press says "Garcia Marquez's magical realist novels and short stories exposed tens of millions of readers to Latin America's passion, superstition, violence and inequality."

"Widely considered the most popular Spanish-language writer since Miguel de Cervantes in the 17th century, Garcia Marquez achieved literary celebrity that spawned comparisons to Mark Twain and Charles Dickens."

"His flamboyant and melancholy works outsold everything published in Spanish except the Bible. The epic 1967 novel "One Hundred Years of Solitude sold more than 50 million copies in more than 25 languages."

The Los Angeles Times says:

"A cause of death was not immediately annnounced, but Garcia Marquez had been in failing health for some time. He was released from the hospital just over a week ago.

"Garcia Marquez's death represents the passing of one of the world's greatest living authors, and the loss of a powerful public intellectual whose opinions on Cuba, military dictatorship and Latin American cultural autonomy made front-page news.

"The news was met with an outpouring of grief and reverence for the writer known to his admirers simply as 'Gabo,' and who was often compared to Hispanic literature's other titan, 'Don Quixote' author Miguel de Cervantes. More than any other author, Garcia Marquez fueled the post-World War II popularizing of Latin America literature known as the 'Boom.'"

NPR's Mandalit Del Barco has a more detailed portrait of the author and his life here.

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Nobel Literature laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez greets fans and reporters outside his home on his birthday in Mexico City, on March 6, 2014. (AP)

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Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez was awarded the 1982 Nobel Prize in literature "for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent's life and conflicts".

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The Secret Sisters' new album, backed by Jack White and produced by T-Bone Burnett, is called Put Your Needle Down. (Courtesy of Republic Records)

Harmony-Loving Sisters Keep It Retro

by Meredith Ochs
Apr 17, 2014 (All Things Considered)

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Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez was awarded the 1982 Nobel Prize in literature "for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent's life and conflicts".

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Porcelain complected, red-lipsticked, blue-eyed and raven-haired, The Secret Sisters' look seems cultivated to match the duo's sound. Real-life sisters Laura and Lydia Rogers are as flawlessly retro as Mad Men and as lively and bold as Bettie Page, and their voices ring in impeccable harmonies that soar straight into The Everly Brothers' territory.

The two have already attracted the attention of Jack White, who put out one of their singles on his own record label. They've also found a perfect partner in producer T-Bone Burnett, whose distinct sonic stamp frames the songs of their new album, Put Your Needle Down, in a timeless fashion.

The sisters' debut album was heavily influenced by classic country singers. They absorbed their strum-and-twang sensibilities while growing up in a musically inclined family from a region rich in American music history, Muscle Shoals, Ala. Their new album is a leap forward, showing artistic growth and sophistication. You can hear it in the jazz-inflected sound of "Dirty Lie," a demo that Bob Dylan started writing in the 1980s, but never finished. It's the only song in their repertoire that they don't sing harmonies on, but by adding more lyrics and styling it up, they make it their own.

Even in their lyrics, the sisters have mastered the art of looking backward and forward at the same time. Their love songs often explore the power struggle in romantic relationships. Sometimes they keep the upper hand, sometimes they don't. But from their lips, even forlorn acquiescence sounds more like ruminating in a Hawaiian paradise than a bad breakup.

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