Saturday, March 9, 2013

García Márquez / Solitude and Nobel

Gabriel García Márquez
The New York Times / October 24, 1982

here was dancing in the streets of Macondo last week when they learned of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Nobel Prize for Literature. Or perhaps flowers rained from the sky.

The 54-year-old Colombian novelist, known best in English-speaking countries for ''One Hundred Years of Solitude,'' was praised by the Swedish Academy of Letters for creating ''a cosmos in which the human heart and the combined forces of history time and again burst the bounds of chaos.'' And no one could complain that ''an unknown literary continent or province is being brought to light with the prize.''

Garcia Marquez's real hometown, a banana center called Aracataca on the Caribbean coast, may or may not be impressed. (''The worst thing that can happen to a writer in a continent where people don't read is that his books are being sold like sausages,'' he said.) But now he will probably be able to return there after years of exile in Mexico City, and will maybe even have an easier time entering the United States. Until 1971 he was refused a visa here because of supposed Communist ties (''I have never belonged to the Communist party,'' he says). Since then, when Columbia University awarded him an honorary doctorate, the State Department has given him a special waiver.

Mr. Marquez has drawn much of his fictional material from the political and social climate of Latin America. As one of 16 children of a poor telegraph operator, he took the lush folklore with him on a journalism career in European capitals and New York, where he was a correspondent for the Cuban press agency. He published a collection of short stories in 1955 and ''Cien Anos de Soledad'' in 1967, but did not achieve international recognition until the latter was translated into English in 1970.

The academy noted that Mr. Marquez ''is strongly committed politically on the side of the poor and the weak against domestic oppression and foreign economic exploitation.'' A personal friend of Fidel Castro, he has voiced reservations about life in Cuba, but has been sharply critical of the United States boycott. As for Ronald Reagan, the new laureate has contended that the President ''can't accept that the current struggle in Latin America has internal causes -injustice, inequality and oppression. For him, all acts of legitimate revolt are Soviet operations: these aren't countries but pawns. That's very grave for our identity.''

With a new government in Colombia, Mr. Marquez hopes to start his own newspaper there next year. A novella called ''Chronicle of a Death Foretold'' will be published in the spring. He reports that he is working on a love story with a happy ending. ''The world is short of happiness,'' he said recently.

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