Chinese writers pay tribute to Marquez

By Sun Xiaobo and Yang Jingjie Source:Global Times Published: 2014-4-18 23:08:01

Nobel prize-winning writer and journalist, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, waves while coming out from his house to meet the press on his 87th birthday in Mexico City on March 6, 2014. Photo: AFP

More photos: Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez passes away at 87

Tributes have been pouring in from around the world for Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who died at the age of 87 on Thursday. Many tributes flowed from China, where his works influenced a generation of writers in the 1980s.

Garcia Marquez died at his home in Mexico City, where he had returned from hospital last week after a bout of pneumonia.

Garcia Marquez was one of the prime exponents of magical realism, a genre he described as embodying "myth, magic and other extraordinary phenomena." He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, and was seen as the most popular Spanish-language writer since Miguel de Cervantes in the 17th century.

His masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude, which was published in 1967, was translated into dozens of languages and sold over 30 million copies. It is a historical and literary saga about a family from the imaginary Caribbean village of Macondo between the 19th and 20th century.

"One thousand years of solitude and sadness for the death of the greatest Colombian of all time," Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos tweeted, and later declared three days of national mourning.

Garcia Marquez also enjoyed great fame in China.

The Chinese version of One Hundred Years of Solitude was first published in China in 1984 without receiving authorization for publishing. After seeing the widespread piracy of his book during a visit to the country in 1990, Garcia Marquez vowed not to permit his works to be published in China.

In 2011, the first authorized Chinese version of the book was published in the country after an agreement with the author by Thinkingdom Media.

Li Yao, chief editor of the foreign literature department at Thinkingdom Media, told the Global Times that since 2011, the company has published 4 million copies of Garcia Marquez's works, including 2.6 million copies of One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Li said his Chinese readers are mainly middle-aged people and youth.

Back in the 1980s, Garcia Marquez's works ushered in a landmark movement for Latin American literature in China, with his writing style inspiring many renowned Chinese writers.

Mo Yan, the first Chinese national to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, is one of the many inspired by him.

Mo said Friday that in the 1980s almost all the Chinese authors had read One Hundred Years of Solitude. "He invented a unique genre of novel, and a means to achieve immortality," Mo told news portal

Qiu Huadong, a deputy editor-in-chief of the People's Literature magazine, told the Global Times that in the 1980s Chinese authors had a "natural familiarity" with Latin American literature, given China and the Latin American countries' similar development status at the time. "Back then, Chinese authors were at the stage of seeking cultural roots. Garcia Marquez's works inspired this," he said.

Zhang Yiwu, a professor of Chinese literature at Peking University, told the Global Times that Chinese people started reading large amounts of foreign literature in the early 1980s, when the reform and opening-up policy had just started. At that time, Garcia Marquez brought huge inspiration to Chinese authors, who were seeking changes in Chinese literature.

"The inspiration was about how to make works, which contain national culture, accepted by global readers for those from countries that are undeveloped and out of the mainstream Western cultural system," Zhang said.

On social media, thousands of entries were posted in commemoration of the writer. Some posted key quotes from his works.

A left-leaning intellectual, Garcia Marquez spent time in post-revolution Cuba and developed a close friendship with former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, to whom he sent drafts of his books.

The US banned him from visiting for years after he set up the New York branch of Cuba's official news agency and was accused of funding leftist guerrillas at home.

However, he also developed a friendship with then US president Bill Clinton in the 1990s, and worked as an emissary between Castro and Clinton.

Other classics from Garcia Marquez included Autumn of the Patriarch, Love in the Time of Cholera and Chronicle of a Death Foretold.

Officials announced a public tribute will be held in Mexico City's Bellas Artes Palace cultural center Monday.

Wu Ningning and agencies contributed to this story

Posted in: Society

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