(Update: García Márquez passed away in April 2014. Here is his obituary from The New York Times; an overview of his life in Mental Floss magazine that first appeared in 2009; a collection of his short stories published in The New Yorker; and reaction to his death from world leaders and writers compiled by the Huffington Post.)
Gabriel García Márquez was born 85 years old today in Aracataca, Colombia. He is the greatest Latino writer alive, perhaps ever.
García Márquez is known for his classic books, One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera. He was part of the Latin American boom of literature in the 1960s, along with Carlos Fuentes and his rival, Mario Vargas Llosa. (Their feud resulted in García Márquez getting a black eye.)
His books are known for their magic realism. But some books are too realistic: 1996’s News of a Kidnapping, which reflected the turmoil in his country, recently received a sales boost in Tehran because the story is similar to recent events in that country.
What makes García Márquez the most significant writer in Latino literature today? He was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature earlier than any other living recipient. But he’s also permeated the pop culture more than anyone else. Oprah Winfrey chose his works for her book club. Cholera plays a major plot point in the 2001 movie Serendipity. And, best of all, actor Tom Hanks is shown reading Solitude in the 1989 movie Turner and Hooch. What could be better than that?