500 million people on earth now speak Spanish. And, for each of them, one voice has long risen above most others -- that of writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature (1982), Gabo, as he is popularly known, turned 80 on March 6. He spent his birthday in the company of old friend Fidel Castro, but the world refused to let him get away quietly.
At a recent tribute during the International Congress of Spanish Language in Colombia, the crowd rose to applaud him and his work. Also applauding in respect and admiration were other writers, a former US president, and the king of Spain.
For Marquez, it must all seem like a far cry from the days when his wife sold her jewels to feed their two children, while he took 18 months to create, in 1967, a novel titled One Hundred Years of Solitude. That book -- sent to a publisher after the latter lent Marquez the postal costs -- now ranks among the world's greatest. Few bookstores on earth can justify not carrying a copy.
Text: Rediff News Bureau. Image: Marquez during the International Congress of the Spanish Language, Cartagena, March 26, 2007
Photograph: Rodrigo Arangua/AFP/Getty Images
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