Gabriel García Márquez
Colombian novelist and short-story writer, one of the founding figures of modern South American literature. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1982.
Brought up in poverty in the remote village of Aracataca, García Márquez nevertheless studied law and journalism at the universities of Colombia and Bogotá. He followed a journalistic career from 1948 and began to write the short fictions collected in his first book, Leaf Storm (1955). The title story introduced the imaginary village of Macondo, loosely based on his birthplace, which appears throughout his work as a symbolic focus of Colombian history and identity. From 1955 García Márquez worked in Paris and Rome as foreign correspondent of El Espectador, a liberal daily; enthusiasm for the 1959 Cuban revolution then led him to spend two years with the Cuban press agency in Havana and New York. His first major novel, In Evil Hour, appeared in 1962.
Owing to his left-wing sympathies, García Márquez came into disfavour with the Colombian government and spent the 1960s and 1970s in voluntary exile in Mexico and Spain. In 1967 he produced his masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude, a dense work tracing the history and ethos of Macondo through the lives of several generations of its leading family. The book is celebrated for its ‘magic realism’, an intermingling of realism and fantasy that has been much imitated in recent writing. The Autumn of the Patriarch (1975) is a complex satire on South American dictatorship.
Following the award of the Nobel Prize, García Márquez was formally invited back to Colombia where he has since lived. Subsequent novels, such as A Chronicle of a Death Foretold (1982), Love in a Time of Cholera (1985), and The General in His Labyrinth (1990), a novel about Bolívar, have enjoyed considerable success in Europe and the USA. His more recent publications have included Strange Pilgrims: Twelve Stories (1991) and News of a Kidnapping (1996), a nonfiction work about the Colombian cocaine cartels.