Words That Bleed: The Radical Literature of Gabriel García Márquez



Last Friday, April 18, Colombian author and literary icon, Gabriel García Márquez passed away in Mexico City.  Although he wrote a variety of works including plays, articles, and short stories, he is most well-known for his novels, which lead him to receive the Nobel Prize for literature in 1982. García Márquez wrote in a very specific style that combined surrealism with themes like nostalgia, war and family.

His novels are seen by much of the world as masterpieces that deconstruct human experiences that pertain to real events in history.  The beauty behind his work is the way in which he wrote, which was so convincing that even the most fantastical instant was completely believable.  He had an incredible way of convincing readers of the imaginary worlds he constructed because of the consistently easy way he meandered through realism and fantasy. The most impressive aspect of his work is the fact that he used his story-telling talents to write about important themes that impact Latin America.

In his most famous novel, “One Hundred Years of Solitude”, García Márquez followed several generations within one family, and recorded their struggle with their own interactions, but also with an increasingly globalized world, dictators, and colonizers. Similar aspects of Latin American culture and history are also present in his novels, “Chronicle of a Death Foretold” and “Love in the Time of Cholera” where he wrote in a non-linear and surreal way about the human condition through experiences that were familiar to much of the continent.  The same is true in his acceptance speech of the Nobel Prize in Literature.  He used this platform to talk about injustices happening in Latin America that were not being spoken about at the time, recounting the millions who had fled Chile, exiles in Uruguay, and the military coups and warfare that had resulted in thousands of deaths throughout Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

There is more than one word for what García Márquez showed through his writing.  Whether one considers it activism, radicalism, or even revolution, does not change the importance of what he did through his work by bringing light to issues that begin with the systematic and end up manifesting within all of us.  The truth of what he wrote was a deep correlation between global injustices and the self, coded in an air of make-believe.  García Márquez will be missed not only as a literary icon but also an advocate for human rights and the pursuit for the truth.

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