Gabriel Jose Garcia Marquez (born March 6, 1928) is a Colombian novelist, journalist, publisher, and political activist.
Born in the town of Aracataca in the department of Magdalena, he has lived mostly in Mexico and Europe and currently spends much of his time in Mexico City.
Garcia Marquez is widely considered to be the leading exponent of the literary style known as magical realism, and while much of his writing is strongly emblematic of this style, it cannot be categorized thus in its entirety.
Garcia Marquez began his career as a reporter for the Bogota daily El Espectador, and later worked as a foreign correspondent in Rome, Paris, Barcelona, Caracas, and New York City.
His first major work was The Story Of a Shipwrecked Sailor (Relato de un naufrago), which he wrote as a newspaper series in 1955. The book told the true story of a shipwreck by exposing the fact that the existence of contraband aboard a Colombian Navy vessel had contributed to the tragedy due to overweight. This resulted in public controversy, as it discredited the official account of the events, which had blamed a storm for the shipwreck and glorified the surviving sailor. This led to the beginning of his foreign correspondence, as Garcia Marquez became a sort of persona non grata for the government of General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla. It was later published in 1970 and taken by many to have been a novel.
Several of his works have been classified as both fiction and non-fiction, notably Chronicle Of a Death Foretold (Cronica de una muerte anunciada) (1981), which tells the tale of revenge killing recorded in the newspapers, and Love In the Time Of Cholera (El amor en los tiempos del colera) (1985), which is loosely based on the story of his parents' courtship. Many of his works, including those two, take place in the "Garcia Marquez universe", in which characters, places, and events re-appear from book to book.
His most famous novel, One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Cien anos de soledad) (1967; English translation by Gregory Rabassa 1970), has sold more than ten million copies. It depicts the life of an isolated South American village where strange occurrences are portrayed as commonplace. It certainly has elements of the magically real, but it is much more than that, being also a philosophical reflection on the nature of time and isolation. Some critics say it lacks the folkloric content which is a prerequisite of magic realism, so it cannot be classified as such. However, not everything strange and unexplained is folkloric; some of it is simply ordinary life. It should be noted that the novel should not only be recognized for its innovative use of magical realism but also for its beautiful use of the Spanish language. Often overlooked in the discussion of the book is the fact that it is an epic piece of writing that spans many decades in the life of a complex and large family.
A major undercurrent in the writings of Garcia Marquez is the study of old age and death. Many of his works contain depiction of old age, death and funerals. His vision into this world of degeneration is marvellously intuitive. Still, the power of life and love to reign over is also never understated.
Garcia Marquez won the Romulo Gallegos Prize in 1972 for One Hundred Years of Solitude. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1982, with his short stories and novels cited as the basis for the award.
In 1999, he was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. This event incited him to start writing his memoirs. In 2000, his death was incorrectly reported by Peruvian daily newspaper La Republica.
In 2002, he published the memoir Vivir Para Contarla, the first volume of a projected three-volume autobiography. The book was a bestseller in the Spanish-speaking world. Edith Grossman's English translation, Living To Tell the Tale, was published in November 2003 and has become another bestseller. On September 10, 2004, the Bogota daily El Tiempo announced a new novel, Memoria De Mis Putas Tristes, a love story that was published the following October with a first print run of one million copies.
Garcia Marquez is also noted for his friendship with, and enthusiasm for, Fidel Castro and has previously expressed sympathy for some Latin American revolutionary groups, especially during the 1960s and 1970s. He has also been critical of the political situation in Colombia. Despite accusations made by members of the Colombian government decades ago, there is no evidence that he has openly supported guerrilla groups such as the FARC and ELN that operate in Colombia. Since the early 1980s, Garcia Marquez has occasionally acted as a low profile facilitator, usually in a role that he has shared with Fidel Castro, in several of the attempts at negotiations between the government and the guerrillas.
He is the father of television and film director Rodrigo Garcia