Earlier this month novelist, journalist, and social activist Gabriel Garcia Marquez passed away in Mexico City at the age of 87. It is a testament to his artistic achievement that his works are both highly regarded by critics and are very widely read — Salman Rushdie notes in his New York Times obituary that Ian McEwan’s comparison of Garcia Marquez to Charles Dickens in that regard is accurate — and so it comes as no surprise that people around the world are marking his death by taking a look back at his work and what it has meant to the many millions of readers who have been moved by it.
Here are a few pieces that I have enjoyed reading:
The Paris Review has dug into their archives to make available two great pieces, a 1981 Art of Fiction interview:
I think that writing is very difficult, but so is any job carefully executed. What is a privilege, however, is to do a job to your own satisfaction. I think that I’m excessively demanding of myself and others because I cannot tolerate errors; I think that it is a privilege to do anything to a perfect degree. It is true though that writers are often megalomaniacs and they consider themselves to be the center of the universe and society’s conscience. But what I most admire is something well done. I’m always very happy when I’m traveling to know that the pilots are better pilots than I am a writer.
…and an incredible oral history of Marquez’s life and work compiled by Silvana Paternostro:
WILLIAM STYRON: Gabo could not exist in the Anglo-Saxon world. We have no real tradition. It’s not that writers to some degree aren’t respected in this country. They are, but not to the degree they are not only respected but venerated elsewhere. Carlos Fuentes and Octavio Paz had that effect in Mexico. Mario Vargas Llosa was close to becoming president of Peru. Gabo is this sort of phenomenon par excellence. The idea of a writer having such a profound political and cultural influence in the United States like Gabo has in Latin America is inconceivable.
The New Yorker enlisted Edwidge Dandicat to write a piece for their blog:
I am often surprised when people talk about the total implausibility of the events in García Márquez’s fiction. Having been born and lived in a deeply spiritual and extraordinarily resourceful part of the Caribbean, a lot of what might seem magical to others often seems quite plausible to me.
Of course a woman can live inside her cat, as the character Eva does, in García Márquez’s 1948 short story “Eva Is Inside Her Cat.” Doesn’t everyone have an aunt who’s done that? And remember that neighbor who died but kept growing in his coffin, as in the 1947 story “The Third Resignation”? What seems implausible to me is a lifetime of absolute normalcy, a world in which there are no invasions, occupations, or wars, no poverty or dictators, no earthquakes or cholera.
The Guardian showed his life in photographs.
The Columbia University Press highlighted his journalistic accomplishments by reprinting excerpts from a piece written by Miles Corwin for a book of essays about classic works of journalism called Second Read: Writers Look Back at Classic Works of Reportage:
The public always likes an exposé, but what made [Garcia Marquez’s] stories so popular was not simply the explosive revelations of military incompetence. García Márquez had managed to transform Velasco’s account into a narrative so dramatic and compelling that readers lined up in front of the newspaper’s offices, waiting to buy copies.
NPR gives readers a little ray of hope by covering the publication of an excerpt from an unfinished new story by Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia.
-Dan, who discovered Clandestine in Chile on a display on Main’s First Floor and is looking forward to reading some of Marquez’s journalistic work.