11 Things You Didn't Know About Gabriel García Márquez

04/17/2014 07:43 pm ET
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Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez, who died on Thursday, was one of the greatest literary minds the world has produced. Here's 11 things you should know about the Nobel laureate.

  • 1 He had more important things to do than study law
    Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez answers journalists' questions after having been announced as winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, 25 October 1982 in Mexico City. (Getty Images)
    He started college in Bogotá, but before graduating headed out into the world to pursue his true passion.
  • 2 Like many great Latin American writers, he got his start as a journalist
    But he hated tape recorders. He told the Paris Review his method of taking notes on interviews in 1981: The problem is that the moment you know the interview is being taped, your attitude changes. In my case I immediately take a defensive attitude. As a journalist, I feel that we still haven’t learned how to use a tape recorder to do an interview. The best way, I feel, is to have a long conversation without the journalist taking any notes. Then afterward he should reminisce about the conversation and write it down as an impression of what he felt, not necessarily using the exact words expressed. Another useful method is to take notes and then interpret them with a certain loyalty to the person interviewed. What ticks you off about the tape recording everything is that it is not loyal to the person who is being interviewed, because it even records and remembers when you make an ass of yourself.
  • 3 He was inspired by abuela
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    One day while driving home from a family vacation in 1965, García Márquez had a revelation: "I should tell stories the way my grandmother told hers."

    When he arrived home, he sat down to write, chain smoking, and didn't miss a single day until the novel was finished.
  • 4 He was beloved by his peers
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    Becoming perhaps the region's greatest exponent of "Magical Realism," a genre in which the fantastical seamlessly intertwines with the ordinary, earned García Márquez the praise of his literary peers. Chilean poet Pablo Neruda told Time Magazine that One Hundred Years of Solitude was "the greatest revelation in the Spanish language since the Don Quixote of Cervantes."
  • 5 He became one of eight Latin Americans to win the Nobel Prize for literature
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    But it freaked him out. After receiving the call on the night of Oct. 20, 1982, García Márquez was left trembling from head to toe, according to Colombian daily El Tiempo. Alone in the house, he ran over to his friend Alvaro Mutis' house. When Mutis saw the state his friend was in, he assumed he'd had a fight with his wife. "Worse," García Márquez said. "They just gave me a Nobel Prize."
  • 6 He had an epic feud with fellow Latin American Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa
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    Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa walked up to García Márquez in a Mexico City movie theater and punched him in the face. Some speculated that the two, once great friends, fought over politics. But photographer Rodrigo Moya, who shot a picture of a grinning García Márquez with an ugly black eye after the episode, says the point of contention was Vargas Llosa's wife. The two authors reportedly never spoke again.
  • 7 He was buddies with Fidel Castro
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    Despite his criticisms of authoritarianism, the leftwing García Márquez was a personal friend of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and reported for the Cuban government's newswire service Prensa Latina in the 1960s.
  • 8 He was banned from the United States for decades
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    The U.S. government refused to grant Gárcía Márquez a visa for more than three decades, according to The New York Times -- likely because of his support of leftwing governments opposed by Washington and his friendship with Fidel Castro. Former President Bill Clinton overturned the restriction in the mid-1990s.
  • 9 His favorite ice cream flavor was níspero
    García Márquez finished out his days residing in Mexico City, but when he'd visit Cartagena in recent years, he liked to eat at a restaurant called Ohlala. For dessert, he'd ask for níspero ice cream -- a local fruit -- from Gelatería Paradiso down the block, according to the store's owner María Nevett (who is, for full disclosure, the mother of HuffPost Latino Voices editor Ana Benedetti).
  • 10 He was married to the same woman for more than half a century
    Colombian Nobel Prize for Literature 1982 Gabriel Garcia Marquez (L), sitting in the carriage alongisde his wife Mercedes Barcha, smiles upon arriving at his hometown Aracataca by train 30 May, 2007. (Getty Images)
    Gabriel García Márquez married Mercedes Barcha in 1958.
  • 11 He outsold everyone but God in Spanish
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    Only the Bible has sold more copies in the Spanish language than the works of Gabriel García Márquez.

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