My most important problem was destroying the lines of demarcation that separate what seems real from what seems fantastic.
Gabriel García Márquez
Gained a scholarship which enabled him to attend high school, but gave up law studies in Bogota after a year out of boredom.
He has been a journalist - he worked for a Cuban news agency and was denied an American visa because of it - and still is a political activist.
Did you know?
Whilst driving in 1965, he was inspired to begin One Hundred Years of Solitude by a lightning flash - and immediately turned the car around and disappeared into his study for 18 months. His wife pawned the furniture to keep him supplied with paper and cigarettes for the six packs he needed a day.
His early work was uniformly dark and Kafkaesque; in 1967 he sprang to fame with One Hundred Years of Solitude, and swiftly became one of the greats of South American literature, charting the continent's decay with a mixture of bitterness and romanticism. After being nominated three years running, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, "for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent's life and conflicts".
Love in the Time of Cholera captures the frailty and persistence of human passion.
Kafka's The Metamorphosis - in a translation by Jorge Luis Borges - changed his life: the tone reminded him of the stories told by his grandmother, and he claims that "I didn't know anyone was allowed to write things like that. If I had known, I would have started writing a long time ago." He now lists among his cultural heroes Ernest Hemingway, Dick Tracy, Fidel Castro and Little Orphan Annie. Sophocles' Oedipus Rex and Faulkner (García Márquez's fictional town Macondo owes something to his Yoknaputawpha County) have also been important literary influences.
Now read on
His many descendants include Mario Vargas Llosa and Louis de Bernières.
García Márquez has written screenplays and worked as a subtitler; several of his short stories have been filmed, while Rupert Everett stars in the 1987 Italian film, Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Marlon Brando is slated to appear in a Hollywood version of Autumn of the Patriarch.
Mario Vargas Llosa wrote about his life and work in 1971's Historia de un Deicidio.
Modern Critical Views: Gabriel García Márquez, ed Harold Bloom, is a representative compilation of essays.