Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez died Thursday at the age of 87. His work, including the novel 100 Years of Solitude earned him a Nobel Prize and sparked an entire genre of literature.
NPR’s Mandalit Del Barco reports his magical realistic style of narrative had it’s roots in two grandparents with two different perspectives.
Garcia Marquez was born in 1927 in the Colombian coast town of Aracataca, which experienced a boom after a U.S. fruit company arrived. In a 1984 interview with NPR, he said his writing was forever shaped by the grandparents who raised him as a young child:
“There was a real dichotomy in me because, on one hand … there was the world of my grandfather; a world of stark reality, of civil wars he told me about, since he had been a colonel in the last civil war. And then, on the other hand, there was the world of my grandmother, which was full of fantasy, completely outside of reality.”
According to the BBC obituary, in 1965 he was politically active and a journalist but little known. He was driving to Acapulco with his family when he had a idea for a story. He turned the car around, went home and shut himself in a room for 18 months with six packets of cigarettes a day.
He emerged eighteen months later to find his family $12,000 in debt. Fortunately, he had thirteen hundred pages of phenomenal best-selling text in his hands.
The novel’s first printing in Spanish sold out within a week, and during the next thirty years One Hundred Years of Solitude sold more than twenty million copies and was translated into more than thirty languages.
The New York Times called it the first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race.
Marquez had recently been hospitalized. He died at home in Mexico, where he had live for the past 30 years.