Remembering Gabriel García Márquez

Source: Filippo, Flickr
Source: Filippo, Flickr

Myth brims with stories of the brave and talented being raised up to the heavens to shine as stars after death. Gabriel García Márquez was one of the rare few who attained the sky even before his time had come, illuminating a new genre for countless readers the world over. For many, García Márquez's work was the first glimpse at a new literary landscape, one that shone as much with darkness as it did with light. Known for using illusion and fantasy to highlight the tumult of life in South America, García Márquez's prose magnifies personal struggle to capture the spirit of upheaval and revolution. Though his imagery has been described as transcendent and his prose inspired, it is the emotion engendered by García Márquez's work that remains with the reader.

In One Hundred Years of Solitude, García Márquez creates a world that is as pliable as soft clay, but nonetheless inescapable to the characters trapped within. A beautifully wrought allegory of the cycles of crisis that plagued South America, One Hundred Years of Solitude takes a story of nations and brings that drama down to a human level. A novel that succeeds on imagery and metaphor, the text only deepens with knowledge of South American history and politics.

García Márquez would go on to expand on these themes of crisis, violence, and inevitability in The Autumn of the Patriarch, a more direct look at the construction and dehumanizing effects of dictatorship. While the titular patriarch seems to persist forever, his existence is as claustrophobic as the breathlessly text-packed pages his story unfolds on.

Primarily known in the United States for his fiction work (such as Love in the Time of Cholera), García Márquez was also an accomplished journalist. An early non-fiction work, Clandestine in Chile is in many ways the opposite view of The Autumn of the Patriarch. Examining the Pinochet regime through the eyes of an exiled director, García Márquez focuses on the cultural cost of political suppression and dictatorship. Similar themes emerge from News of a Kidnapping, which recounts a series of kidnappings committed by the Mendellin Cartel in an attempt to create a culture of fear in Colombia.

To further explore the extraordinary career of the father of magical realism, search our catalog here. Share your favorite titles in the comments, and help Chicago discover the incredible worlds captured by Gabriel García Márquez .