Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez
[ɡaˈβɾjel ɣarˈsi.a ˈmarkes] 6 March 1927 – 17 April 2014) was a Colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist, known affectionately as Gabo throughout Latin America. Considered one of the most significant authors of the 20th century, he was awarded the 1972 Neustadt International Prize for Literature and the 1982Nobel Prize in Literature. He pursued a self-directed education that resulted in his leaving law school for a career in journalism. From early on, he showed no inhibitions in his criticism of Colombian and foreign politics. In 1958, he married Mercedes Barcha; they had two sons,Rodrigo and Gonzalo.
Since García Márquez was eighteen, he had wanted to write a novel based on his grandparents’ house where he grew up. However, he struggled with finding an appropriate tone and put off the idea until one day the answer hit him while driving his family to Acapulco. He turned the car around and the family returned home so he could begin writing. He sold his car so his family would have money to live on while he wrote, but writing the novel took far longer than he expected, and he wrote every day for eighteen months. His wife had to ask for food on credit from their butcher and their baker as well as nine months of rent on credit from their landlord. Fortunately, when the book was finally published in 1967 it became his most commercially successful novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude
, which sold more than 30 million copies. (Cien años de soledad
) (1967; English translation by Gregory Rabassa 1970). The story chronicles several generations of the Buendía family from the time they founded the fictional South American village of Macondo, through their trials and tribulations, instances of incest, births and deaths. The history of Macondo is often generalized by critics to represent rural towns throughout Latin America or at least near García Márquez’s nativeAracataca.
This novel was widely popular and led to García Márquez’s Nobel Prize as well as the Rómulo Gallegos Prize in 1972. William Kennedy has called it “the first piece of literature since theBook of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race,”
and hundreds of articles and books of literary critique have been published in response to it. Despite the many accolades the book received, García Márquez tended to downplay its success. He once remarked: “Most critics don’t realize that a novel like One Hundred Years of Solitude
is a bit of a joke, full of signals to close friends; and so, with some pre-ordained right to pontificate they take on the responsibility of decoding the book and risk making terrible fools of themselves.”