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Clinton says Gabriel Garcia Marquez is his literary hero

U.S. ex-president Bill Clinton declared in an interview published by the Colombian magazine ‘Cambio’ that author and 1982 Nobel prize winner Gabriel Garcia Márquez is his “literary hero”.

“The first time a read one of Gabriel Garcia Márquez’ works was when I was a law student at Yale University. Once I was caught reading his book “One Hundred Years of Solitude”, Clinton remembered.

Clinton will be among the celebrity friends of Garcia Marquez expected to attend the tribute in the Colombian city of Cartagena de Indias. The writer recently celebrated his 80th birthday.

Another South American celebrity writer will be will be conspicuously absent: Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa. With one right hook, an epochal friendship was destroyed and a rift opened between two of Latin America’s most celebrated authors.

At a 1976 movie premiere in Mexico City, the Peruvian novelist – with no apparent provocation – landed a punch to the left eye of his once inseparable Colombian friend, Garcia Marquez. After three decades, the circumstances that led to the scuffle have remained shrouded in mystery. For 31 years, both authors have kept silent about the shiner. Supposedly Vargas Llosa actions were the result of a mixture of professional envy, jealousy and Garcia Marquez disrespecting his Llosa’s wife, Patricia. Increasing opposite opinions on political issues may have also played a role.

Now Colombia’s ex-president and elder statesman Belisario Betancur considers that the rift between the two is closing. Their relationship “is getting better and the hardened crusts are softening”, he told attendants of the 4th International Congress of the Spanish Language.

For the first time there are indications the two famously stubborn authors may reconcile in their old age. After refusing for years, Vargas Llosa has granted permission for parts of an exalting essay he wrote before the split about Garcia Marquez’s bestseller, “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” to be included in a special 40th anniversary edition.

The commemorative edition will be the first by the Spanish Royal Academy since Miguel de Cervantes’ 17th-century classic “Don Quixote”.

“Vargas Llosa has broken the ice. … It’s a good sign,” said Jaime Bernal, a member of the Colombian Academy of Language.

Article by Wolfy Becker

(with information from theAssociated Press)

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