Gabriel Garcia Marquez began writing fiction as a young journalist in Bogota, Colombia, in the late 1940s. His masterpiece, Cien anos de soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude), received worldwide critical acclaim when it was published, first in Spanish in 1967 and then in translation after 1970. Many of his short stories were written before this novel, but were not published collectively until 1972 or later. Thus, readers and critics were already familiar with his style when they read "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World," one of the short stories published in Leaf Storm and Other Stories in 1972.
Garcia Marquez, considered by many to be Colombia's foremost writer, has gained much of his recognition by writing stories that operate on a mythical, almost allegorical, level. ''The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World" takes this type of storytelling into a realm of the fantastic that seems to have no connection to a particular time or place. Nevertheless, Garcia Marquez has been influenced by his upbringing in a coastal Colombian village during the turbulent 1930s. While drawing direct parallels between specific locations and time periods is possible, the nature of Garcia Marquez's work is such that readers can understand his characters not only as inhabitants of a local village but, simultaneously, as universal examples of the human race as well. "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World'' has always interested critics, both those who interpret the story as a comment on Colombian history or politics and those who seek more global applications for the lessons the story imparts. Many post-modern writers have shown interest in Garcia Marquez's work as well. They include Chilean writer Isabelle Allende and American writer Toni Morrison, both of whom have adapted Garcia Marquez's magic realism approach in their own works.