Now, this is a bit of sad news, the Colombian dean of letters Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez died in Mexico City today. My personal favorite work of Márquez (everybody's favorite work of Márquez) has got to be One Hundred Years of Solitude (original title Cien Años de Soledad), one of the pillars of the magical realist body of literature... Gene Wolfe described it simply as fantasy en Español: "Magic realism is fantasy written by people who speak Spanish."
One Hundred Years of Solitude struck me with its dreamy quality- the backdrop behind the saga of the Buendía family being populated with ageless gypsies privy to arcane knowledge, tragic beauties with arresting eyes, foreigners both benign and rapacious. The story is, in many ways, a microcosm of Colombia itself.
I recently started re-reading a translation of the novel while concurrently reading an edition of the Spanish original (purchased for a quarter at a library book sale). It's pretty slow-going (I used to be smarter... I recently shamed myself when I stumbled across a term paper I'd written in college about sycretism in Central American religious traditions that yo había escrito en Español) but I'm able to bask in the beauty of the language, twice. It's tempting to find traces of other works in the novel- a duel is reminiscent of Borges' El Sur, a panther eyed woman calls to mind Asturias' Hombres de Maíz). I'm taking my sweet time- this is literature to be savored.
Rest in peace, Sr. Márquez. artist, intellectual, activist... I hope that the distant afternoon that you remembered on your last day was marked by a pleasant discovery.