Colombian Author and Nobel Prize Winner Gabriel Garcia Márquez Dies at 87

(Reuters) – Colombian author and Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who crafted enchanting stories that blurred the line between magic and reality, died on Thursday at the age of 87.

* Garcia Marquez was born in 1927 in Aracataca, a town near Colombia’s Caribbean coast. His childhood in the banana-growing backwater influenced the settings and characters in some of his novels, including the protagonist in “No One Writes to the Colonel,” said to be based on his ex-soldier grandfather.

* He spent almost two years writing “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” the novel that made him famous. It was published in 1967 and is believed to have sold more than 30 million copies. It helped him win the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature.

* He used his Nobel lecture to challenge what he saw as political interference by Europe and the United States in Latin America: “Why is the originality so readily granted us in literature so mistrustfully denied us in our difficult attempts at social change?”

* He was one of the prime exponents of magical realism, a literary genre he described as embodying “myth, magic and other extraordinary phenomena.”

* Garcia Marquez, known affectionately as “Gabo,” studied law and worked as a journalist. He wrote a controversial but acclaimed series of stories about a Colombian sailor who survived a high-seas shipwreck for the newspaper El Espectador.

* He moved to Paris after the publication of his first novel “Leaf Storm,” later writing about his travels in Communist Eastern Europe.

* He was a vocal supporter of the left-wing Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua and was a close friend of Cuban communist leader Fidel Castro. He spent time in Spain with his wife and two sons, before settling more permanently in Mexico.

* Garcia Marquez followed “One Hundred Years of Solitude” with two politically charged novels, “Autumn of the Patriarch,” based on the lives of various Latin American dictators, and “Chronicle of a Death Foretold,” a critique of the apathy in Colombian society after the murder of a young man.

* The author had a famous feud with the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa in the 1970s. It culminated in a physical scuffle that left Garcia Marquez with a black eye.

* “Love in the Time of Cholera,” another of the author’s most famous works, was made into a 2007 movie starring Spanish actor Javier Bardem; the film received mixed reviews.

* Garcia Marquez’s interest in journalism never diminished, even as he became internationally acclaimed for his fiction. He wrote cover pieces for the Colombian magazine Cambio and in 1994 established the Foundation for New Ibero-American Journalism, which gives a yearly prize named after him.

* “Memories of My Melancholy Whores,” Garcia Marquez’s last novel, was published in 2004. Two years earlier he had published “Living to Tell the Tale,” the first of what was supposed to be a three-volume autobiography.

* Garcia Marquez survived lymphatic cancer in 1999. Although his editor said in 2010 that the author was working on a new novel, his brother Jaime said he was suffering from dementia and no longer able to write.