Gabriel Garcia Marquez used his words to spring magical realism upon the world through timeless classics. Garcia Marquez began his life in poverty as he and his 12 siblings were raised by their maternal grandparents in Aracataca, Colombia. Living with his grandparents fostered his love for writing through his grandmother’s ghost stories and grandfather’s political outspokenness. However, his time with his grandparents ended as his family moved to Bogota during adolescence. The novelist graduated high school and studied law at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia for a time.
However, his time with the law ended unceremoniously after the university shut down. He turned this low into a prime opportunity as he switched to journalism at the Universidad de Cartagena. His passion led Marquez to work as a reporter at publications like El Universal and El Heraldo. At this time, he became engulfed in American and European literature, reading notable writers like William Faulkner and Virginia Woolf. His journalism work led to him upsetting Gen. Gustavo Rojas Pinilla over a soldier’s story. The general’s actions pushed him to flee Colombia and work as a European correspondent for two years. He eventually returned to Colombia in 1965 to marry his childhood sweetheart, Mercedes Barcha. The couple moved to Caracas, Venezuela, where Garcia Marquez freelanced for several magazines.
As he continued working as a journalist, Garcia Marquez began writing some of his most notable work from the 1950s and 1960s. He published his first novella, Leaf Storm, in 1955. His follow-up, No One Writes to the Colonel, arrived in 1958. The renowned writer delved into novels with two of his best-known works — 1962’s In Evil Hour and 1967’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. The latter served as his literary breakthrough, translated into 46 languages. He went on to publish more works across various genres, including The Autumn of the Patriarch, Love in the Time of Cholera, Big Mama’s Funeral, and News of a Kidnapping. His works helped introduce magical realism to the masses during the Latin American boom of the 1960s and 1970s.
In his later years, Garcia Marquez began receiving recognition for his literary work by obtaining the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. This recognition made him the first Colombian and fourth Latin American to receive the coveted prize. He continued writing and publishing several novels and short story collections. He finally decided to delve into his life through his memoir Living to Tell the Tale in 2002. His work slowed as his health began to deteriorate after a diagnosis of lymphatic cancer. He was reportedly diagnosed with dementia in his latter years. The Nobel Prize winner died on April 17, 2014, after a battle with pneumonia. His passing hasn’t stopped words from reaching the world as his posthumous novel, En Agosto Nos Vemos, will hit bookshelves in 2024.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez merged his story, Latin American culture, and storytelling to change the course of world literature. He left a mark on the world that still endures. His works are still recognized and appreciated for expanding readers’ imaginations. I will say, “Mr. Garcia Marquez, we appreciate you spotlighting Latin American culture.”
No matter what, nobody can take away the dances you’ve already had.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez