Today, we celebrate the 91st birthday of the Gabo- the famous colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist, and quite certainly, the most accomplished author of the 20th century.
If one happens to randomly scroll through Gabriel García Márquez’s official website, the attention fortuitously falls on his quote about his magnum opus. “The tone that I used,” says the author, “was based on the way my grandmother used to say stories. She told things that sounded supernatural and fantastic, but she told them with complete naturalness.” This allusion to the simplicity and matter-of-fact way of storytelling, with no ambitions of extraordinary, or any care for sensationalised fanfare, and an absolute unconsciousness of greatness and hence an indomitable hold to the self-directed, unpolished originality remained the crème de la crème of the author, starting with the first and the foremost One Hundred Years of Solitude which came in 1967 and continuing to the Love in the Time of Cholera and his later writings.
His writings have a significance, not just because of their “magical realism”, a term used by the academic critics to describe the writings of the likes of Salman Rushdie and Gabriel García Márquez, which basically is an umbrella term for the bombardment of the staggering metaphors and pathos which astound, but do not leave the hem of realism and kiss the frontiers of fantasy, but rather for the heart, the stubbornness to tell the tale in an own unique way, and the audacity and robustness of the grand epoch. For not all the authors dare to begin the novel at the point blank of the firing squad, and very few would then dare to follow the story of generations in the scope of a single average sized novel, and almost like the obsession of one of its characters to the chemical science and metallurgy, conjure alchemy to fuse the humanism on the cathode of imagination. And only few in milleniums can then transpose this eccentric and mystical imagination, with the magic of their writings, on the very idea of survival through loss and One Hundred Years of Solitude. Such has been the greatness of Gabriel García Márquez.
Born in Aracataca, Colombia and raised by the maternal grandparents, as a little boy who wrote humorous poems and drew comic strips, he went on to pursue the law degree from the University of Colombia. Here, almost ironically, he was inspired by the the spanish translation of Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. He later turned to journalism but eventually pinballed to his destiny of writing. Leaf Storm was his first novella which was published in 1955, and eventually came the masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude, written every day over eighteen months. It was a major commercial success, with critics calling it the “Bible of Latin America” after it sold over 30 million copies. Rushdie called the novel “the greatest book of the century”, and William Kennedy attributed it as “the first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race.”
The novel later led him to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1972 among numerous others.
On the cusp of all the popularity and fame, García Márquez continued being the author that he was, a raconteur of simple tales of society, with a serene agreement with time and space, in spite of the longings, pains and sufferings. Though One Hundred Years of Solitude was the apogee, the following The Autumn of the Patriarch, Love in the Time of Cholera and Chronicle of a Death Foretold preserved and resembled the basic elements of his writings, the writings of our very own “Gabito”.
After all this time, his readership continues to be seduced by “the charm of his fantasy, with the promise of a prodigious world where all one had to do was sprinkle some magic liquid on the ground and the plants would bear fruit whenever a man wished, and where all manner of instruments against pain were sold at bargain prices.”
Feature Image Credits: Paris Review