“A thousand years of solitude and sadness after the death of the greatest Colombian of all time” – Juan Manuel Santos, president of Colombia.
Called “Castro’s courtesan” by Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, and “one of the greatest writers of our time” by Enrique Pena Nieto, president of Mexico – the writer’s adopted home – one thing is for sure: Gabriel Garcia Marquez will never be forgotten.
I remember my guitar teacher, from Uruguay, commenting that he was a great journalist, but a terrible novelist.
As chance would have it, I’m reading Cronaca de una muerte anunciada – Chronicle of a Death Foretold – which I picked up many years ago at a book stall on the dusty streets of Cartagena de Indias. I know that reading No one Writes to the Colonel for Spanish A level and A Hundred Years of Solitude at university influenced my decision to go travelling in South America for a year by myself after university. I found Colombia every bit as crazy and wonderful as his Macondo. Isabel Allende’s House of the Spirits had something to do with my journey beginning in Chile; and I was there when Pinochet was arrested in England.
A close friend at the time said he could never partake in such gratuitous voyeurism; I knew my journey of discovery was anything but that. Experiencing life in the wake of the oppressive dictatorships that afflicted much of South and Central America (many of which were supported by North America) in the second half of the twentieth century was more educational than four years at university. That journey begot a thousand questions, which I am still considering and will continue to do for many years to come.