Synopses & Reviews
The first full and authorized biography of the 1982 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature—the most popular international novelist of the last fifty years.
Over the course of the nearly two decades Gerald Martin gave to the research and writing of this masterly biography, he not only spent many hours in conversation with Gabriel García Márquez himself but also interviewed more than three hundred others, including García Márquezs wife and sons, mother and siblings, literary agent and translators; Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Alvaro Mutis, among other writers; Fidel Castro and Felipe González, among other political figures; his closest friends as well as those who consider themselves his detractors. The result is a revelation of both the writer and the man.
García Márquezs story is a remarkable one. Born in 1927, raised by grandparents and a clutch of aunts in a small backwater town in Colombia, the shy, intelligent boy matured into a reserved young man, first working as a provincial journalist and later as a foreign correspondent, whose years of obscurity came to an end when, at the age of forty, he published the novel entitled Cien años de soledad—One Hundred Years of Solitude. Within months, the book had garnered spectacular international acclaim, the author hailed as the standard-bearer of a new literature: magical realism. Eight years later, in 1975, he published The Autumn of the Patriarch, and, in 1981, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, each novel rapturously received by critics and readers alike. With his books read by millions around the world, he had become a man of wealth and influence. Yet, for all his fame, he never lost touch with his roots: though he had lived outside of Colombia since 1955—in Barcelona, Mexico City, Paris—his Nobel Prize was celebrated by Colombians from all walks of life who thought, and still think, of “Gabo” as their own. More books followed, both fiction (Love in the Time of Cholera, The General in his Labyrinth, Memories of My Melancholy Whores) and nonfiction (The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor, News of a Kidnapping, Living to Tell the Tale). But García Márquezs renown and passion have continued to combine, as well, in a fervent, unflagging, and often controversial political and social activism.
While chronicling the particulars of the life, Martin also considers the overarching issues: the tension between García Márquezs celebrity and his quest for literary quality, and between his politics and his writing; the seductions of power, solitude, and love. He explores the contrast between the exuberance of the writers Caribbean background and the authoritarianism of highland Bogotá, showing us how these differences are manifest in his writing and in the very shape his life has taken. He explores the melding of experience and imagination in García Márquezs fiction, and he examines the writers reasons for—and the publics reaction to—his turning away in the 1980s from the magical realism that had brought him international renown, toward the greater simplicity that would mark his work beginning with Love in the Time of Cholera.
Gerald Martin has written a superb biography: richly illuminating, as gripping as any of Gabriel García Márquezs powerful journalism, as enthralling as any of his acclaimed and beloved fiction.
"Martin's control of his prodigious material in this first authorized biography of the great Colombian novelist Garca Mrquez is astonishing. Martin (Journeys Through the Labyrinth) writes with a novelist's momentum. His descriptions of Garca Mrquez's hometown, Aracataca (fictionalized as Macondo in One Hundred Years of Solitude), are atmospheric without being cloying; he conducts literary exegesis deftly, like a detective hunting for clues. From isolated youth to shabby college man in thrall to Kafka and Woolf, the 'sexual reprobate' and the Nobel Prize laureate, grounded by his marriage and community of fellow writers and friends, and by turns publicly aloof and loquacious, Garca Mrquez seems to be many different men, but his biographer handles the contradictions with finesse. Almost entirely laudatory, the biography addresses the controversies which generally orbit the politicized Garca Mrquez gingerly if at all, and renders his off-putting traits endearing. Martin has come to praise Garca Mrquez whom he regards as the one writer who has been as artistically influential as the early modernists (in pioneering magical realism, now a staple in fiction from the developing world) and positively Dickensian in his popular appeal. 16 pages of photos, 3 maps." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The biography of the 1982 Nobel Laureate in Literature tells the story of Mrquez, a young man who rose from obscure provincial journalist to progenitor of a new literature.
About the Author
Gerald Martin is Andrew W. Mellon Professor Emeritus of Modern Languages at the University of Pittsburgh and Senior Research Professor in Caribbean Studies at London Metropolitan University. For twenty-five years he was the only English-speaking member of the “Archives” Association of Twentieth-Century Latin American Literature in Paris, and he is a recent president of the International Institute of Ibero-American Literature in the United States. Among his publications are Journeys Through the Labyrinth: Latin American Fiction in the Twentieth Century, a translation and critical edition of Miguel Angel Asturias Men of Maize, and several contributions to the Cambridge History of Latin America. He lives in England.