PARIS – Gabriel Garcia Marquez was an enormous influence on a huge number of writers worldwide, in particular through his 1967 novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude”.
Far beyond South America and the wider Hispanic world, Garcia Marquez’s influence was felt by and played out in the work of authors “all over the planet”, Claude Durand, the French translator of the landmark novel, told AFP.
With its mix of myth, fantasy and family saga, critics have also observed the influence of Garcia Marquez in Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children”.
Rushdie once told an interviewer that there was “a whole group of writers” including himself and Garcia Marquez “who, broadly speaking, are thought of as a family”, namely a Magical Realism family.
“The thing about Garcia Marquez that I admire, that I think is extraordinary, is that his writing is based on a village view of the world,” he added, referring to the imaginary village of Macondo in “One Hundred Years of Solitude”.
In China, writer Mo Yan, who won the Nobel prize for literature in 2012, was so bowled over by that novel that he “read and reread his Chinese translation”, one of the author’s translators, Chantal Chen Andro, told AFP.
As with Garcia Marquez, “Magical realism” is a feature of Mo Yan’s work, she said.
“One finds it in particular when they evoke their childhood and their homeland… giving full rein to their imagination,” she added.
The Haiti-born Canadian author Dany Laferriere said “One Hundred Years of Solitude” left its mark.
‘A staggering moment’
“When I read this book in 1974 in Haiti after it was brought from Canada by a friend it was a revelation, a staggering moment,” he said.
“The rhetorical torrent of Garcia Marquez, his vivid metaphors, dazzled the young reader that I was was then and marked the writer that I became,” he said.
In 2009, Britain’s Wasafiri magazine for international contemporary writing asked 25 authors to name the book that had most shaped world literature over the previous 25 years.
“One Hundred Years of Solitude” was the only novel to be picked more than once with three authors citing it.
Chika Unigwe, a Belgium-based Nigerian-born author who won Africa’s biggest literary prize in 2012, said Garcia Marquez’s masterpiece completely redefined how people looked at reality.
“Its language is powerful; the manner in which it crosses genres is revealing and I cannot think of a single writer friend I know who has not been influenced by Marquez,” she said.
Nil Parkes, a British performance poet of Ghanian descent, said: “I think “One Hundred Years of Solitude” taught the West how to read a reality alternative to their own, which in turn opened the gates for other non-Western writers like myself and other writers from Africa and Asia.
“Apart from the fact that it’s an amazing book, it taught Western readers tolerance for other perspectives,” he added.
Sujata Bhatt, an Indian poet who is based in Germany, said the book stood alone.
“I believe that the last book that has had a significant impact on world literature was “One Hundred Years of Solitude”,” she said.
In France, the writer had many admirers including the late President Francois Mitterrand who invited him to the Elysee Palace.
“Garcia Marquez showed me the way to narrative freedom. I am an absolute admirer of his work and I have an immense debt to him as to Gunter Grass,” French writer Erik Orsenna told AFP.
“When I discovered Garcia Marquez, it was an enormous shock. We were in France and it was the time of the ‘nouveau roman (new novel)’ and narrative was banned.
“And then, suddenly, on the other side of the Atlantic, an author was reinventing quixotic stories, with magnificent characters,” he said.
Durand said that Garcia Marquez’s agent sent him the manuscript for “One Hundred Days of Solitude” before it was published in Spanish.
“He was not known then (but) I understood very quickly, with my wife who is from Cuba, that it was a masterpiece,” he said.
And Garcia Marquez’s influence even left its mark on Iranian politics.
His 1996 novel “News of a Kidnapping” sold out in Tehran in 2011 when opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi said its description of Colombian kidnappings had much in common with his life under house arrest.