Eight Facts You May Not Have Known About Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Image by MULADAR NEWS/Flickr

In the wake of Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s death, let’s look back on the life and legacy of Gabo, as he was affectionately called. Use these next time you plan a trivia game around recently deceased Latin American authors known for their contributions to magical realism:

- GGM’s parents’ bittersweet courtship was reimagined within the pages of Love in the Time of Cholera. Gabo’s maternal grandfather wasn’t too taken with his daughter’s beau, who was reputed to be a bit of a player. He tried to keep the two apart, as testy patriarchs are wont to do, but GGM’s father was persistent, showering his beloved with love letters, poetry, and even telegraphs. All together now: “Ay que lindoooo.”

- GGM kicked off his career in writing as a journalist, once penning a column in the Colombian paper El Heraldo under the name “Septimus.”

- Among Gabo’s many interests? Film. In fact, he reviewed movies during his time as a newspaper writer, and penned several screenplays as well.

- GGM met with many a well-known writer, among them Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner. GGM once said that his aim was not so much to imitate Faulkner’s style, “but to kill and destroy him.”

- GGM had also befriended Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa… until 1976, when, as they tell it, MVL came up to GGM outside Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes, yelled “How dare you come and greet me after what you did to Patricia in Barcelona!” (Patricia being MVL’s wife), and promptly punched him in the face. The tension between the two men evidently thawed a bit in 2007, but it still stands as one of the most memorable literary feuds of our time.

- GGM struck up what he described as an “intellectual” relationship with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, which prompted Cuban author Reinaldo Arenas to call Gabo out and label him a hypocrite.

- During his time in the White House, President Bill Clinton lifted a decades-long U.S. travel ban on GGM, and cited 100 Years of Solitude to be among his favorite books. The two struck up a friendship.

- …and GGM even wrote an essay for Salon defending Clinton during the frenzy surrounding his affair with Monica Lewinsky.