Gabriel Garcia Marquez is Colombia’s most iconic figure: a literary giant whose laid-back attitude and casual costeno charm have made him a hero to millions. He’s had a pretty colourful life as well, so here are See Colombia’s Top 5 favourite Gabo moments:
1. “Turn this car around!”
The Garcia Marquez family were off on a lovely road-trip to Acapulco. Gabo, Mercedes and the kids; it would surely be nice to get a bit of sun on the beach. This was not to be though: suddenly, whilst driving, an idea struck our hero and he turned the car straight around and drove the entire family back to Mexico City. The idea became One Hundred Years of Solitude. It sold quite a few copies, so he was probably forgiven for ruining the holiday…
2. Grammar? Forget about it!
Gabo has been pretty vocal about his disdain for the rules of grammar: he claims that we should simplify grammar, before grammar starts simplifying us. So, for example, there should be no difference between B and V for El Gabo. So, for everyone who likes to correct every little grammatical error that people make, there’s a Nobel Prize winner who disagrees with you – and you can’t really argue with that.
3. “The Solitude of Latin America”
In 1982, as virtually all of Colombia watched at home on television, El Gabo received the Nobel Prize for Literature in Stockholm. Garcia Marquez turned up to the ceremony in typical costeno dress, and delivered a masterful speech entitled “The Solitude of Latin America.” This must surely be the ultimate Gabo moment: the vallenato loving kid from the coast becomes the most famous writer in the world.
4. Nobel Prize fight!
In 1976, after a film premiere in Mexico City, Gabo went to greet his old literary chum, Mario Vargas Llosa. Rather than the warm greeting he was probably expecting, Gabo instead received a punch in the face. The reasons for this famous punch still remain unclear, but the two literary giants haven’t spoken since. Even though he was on the receiving end, this still has to go down as a great Gabo moment; I mean, it must be the only Nobel Prize recipient punch-up in history…and that’s pretty amazing! Imagine the Dalai Lama getting in a fist-fight with Mother Teresa – seems unlikely, doesn’t it!
5. “Go back to work.”
Even at 87 Gabo’s sense of humour remains undimmed: during his hospitalization over the past week, throngs of reporters were waiting outside the hospital in Mexico City, and Gabo, ever the man-of-the-people, sent his son out to convey a message to them. However, rather than the greeting than many may have been expecting, Gabo chose to tell them the following: “Are you crazy? Why are you spending so much time out here? Go back to work.” And that’s exactly why we love him!