| Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Bogota (Colombia), Oct. 12 (Reuters): Seventy years after Gabriel Garcia Marquez listened to his grandmother’s ghost stories in their home near the Caribbean coast, the fabled author is revisiting his early life in Colombia.
This week, the Andean nation’s most famous son released the first volume of his memoirs, sharing the dreams and nightmares of his youth that would ignite the Nobel Prize winner’s imagination and indelibly mark Latin American literature.
“Life is not that which one lived, but that which one remembers, and how one remembers to tell it,” wrote Garcia Marquez, 75, opening his 579-page opus.
The book, much like its mustachioed author, has been a wild success, breaking national sales records in its first days as Colombians attempt to learn more about the young man who left Colombia decades ago to live abroad. Not even his masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude, sold as quickly.
Bookish thieves swiped 15 copies off the back of a truck before the official Bogota launch, causing a scandal that sent police scouring the streets for shady literary dealers.
Gabo, the name given to Garcia Marquez by friend and fans, is known for his “magical realism,” a genre that mixes magic, myth and reality. The style established him as the leading exponent of Latin America’s “boom generation” of writers in the 1960s.
His works are cherished across the Spanish-speaking world and he is considered Latin America’s most famous living author.
Garcia Marquez said he worked on his memoirs between other projects for more than a decade. But three years ago he was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer, so he confined himself to his Mexico City home to write Vivir Para Contarla, best translated as “Living Life to Tell It.”
The memoir opens with Garcia Marquez, at this point a young man, returning to his hometown Aracataca to sell his family home — a turning point in his literary life, which sparked a flood of childhood memories that would anchor his later writings.
Family and friends during his youth are revealed in the memoir as the inspiration for his lengthy cast of characters, just as Aracataca was the seed for his magical world of “Macondo” in One Hundred Years of Solitude.
As the author moves through young adulthood, dark stories are revealed, including the tale of a 1928 massacre of banana workers from the United Fruit Company and the murder of a family friend, who would serve as a base for his book Chronicle of a Death Foretold. No release date has been set for future volumes or an English edition of the memoir.
The book launch was a bittersweet event in Colombia's capital. Garcia Marquez did not appear at the release. Instead, wine-sipping, celebrity well-wishers were greeted by a cardboard cutout of the Colombian hero.
Gabo has not come home in three years — since he appeared at the 1999 launch of Colombia’s now-defunct peace process with Latin America's most powerful Marxist rebel army.
He did not return for the burial of his mother or brother. He has divided his time between his Mexico City home and cancer treatments at a Los Angeles hospital.