Gabriel García Márquez

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At a Glance

In Gabriel García Márquez’s world, truth and fiction are very relative terms. As part of the Latino artistic movement of magical realism, Márquez masterfully navigates between fantasy and reality. His lyrical writing is best revealed in One Hundred Years of Solitude, one of the most-read pieces of Spanish-language literature in history.

Chronicling a century in the life of a small town not so different from the one in which Márquez grew up, the epic novel captures the cyclical nature of time using a fluidly poetic style that would eventually earn him the Nobel Prize for Literature. Yet for all their fanciful constructions, Márquez’s novels also evoke the very real political and social concerns of some of the most turbulent years in Latin American history.

Facts and Trivia

  • Márquez was born and raised by his grandparents in Colombia. 
  • Early in his career, Márquez belonged to the Barranquilla Group, a loose association of Colombian writers and journalists whose mutual association spurred tremendous creative output.
  • Márquez’s colorful family was a rich source for his storytelling. The oral tradition that was part of his family life growing up manifests itself in some of the author’s best works, including the story “A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings.”
  • In 2007, Oprah Winfrey selected Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera for her book club shortly before the film version featuring Javier Bardem was released.
  • The highly political Márquez was a longtime friend of Cuban president Fidel Castro.
  • Márquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold—a dissection of a decades-old murder—was adapted into a stage musical by choreographer-director Graciela Daniele.
  • Due to his views on U.S. imperialism, Márquez was for a long time denied visas to visit the United States. However, President Bill Clinton lifted the ban, citing One Hundred Years of Solitude as one of his favorite novels. 

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Biography

(History of the World: The 20th Century)

Article abstract: Nobel laureate García Márquez is one of the best-known and most admired writers of Latin American fiction. His mythic accounts—which reflect a vibrant blending of history, legends, and folktales—have been instrumental in bringing recognition to Latin American authors for their significant contribution to contemporary world literature.

Early Life

Gabriel José García Márquez was born on March 6, 1928, in Aracataca, a small Colombian village in the banana country coastal region. The eldest of twelve children of Luisa Santiaga Márquez Iguarán and Gabriel Eligio García, García Márquez was reared by maternal grandparents. He grew up in a huge house with an extended family of aunts and great aunts who, like his grandmother, were constant storytellers of local myth, superstition, and legend. His grandfather, a retired colonel, was the most important figure in García Márquez’s life. He filled the boy with tales of the civil wars of 1899-1903 and of past times, and young García Márquez himself developed a nostalgia for the way things used to be. Such childhood influences are reflected in García Márquez’s fiction—which abounds with old houses, ancient matriarchs, nostalgia, civil wars, colonels, and banana companies—and many of his works are set in Macondo, a fictional village with a strong resemblance to Aracataca.

In 1936, his grandfather died, and García Márquez was sent first to school in Barranquilla, then to the National Secondary School in Zipaquirá. After graduation in 1946, he was enrolled in the National University of Colombia in Bogotá to study law. During this time, he also read poetry avidly and began to write short stories. In 1947, his first story, “La tercera resignación” (“The Third Resignation”), was published in the Bogotá newspaper El Espectador, and, during the next five years, he published many others therein. Though most were immature and hard to understand, these stories presaged the Surrealist quality of his later fiction.

In 1948, an assassination in Bogotá initiated a civil...

(The entire section is 6,199 words.)