Amy Finnerty

The Great and Magical Gabo

Fame, acclaim, and a notorious friendship with Fidel Castro: The life of writer Gabriel Garcia Márquez was as fantastical and politically charged as his reality-bending novels.

Few contemporary writers and none from Latin America could match the scope of his influence or the radical inventiveness of his imagination. Affectionately called "Gabo," Gabriel Garcia Márquez, the Colombian Nobel laureate, journalist and author, was the most celebrated Latin American cultural export of his era. He died, at 87, on April 17, in his home in Mexico City. His glamorous mystique -- the houses and apartments strewn across Europe and the Americas, the glossy magazine profiles, the voluptuousness of his words -- was offset by the author's self-deprecating charm and humble back-story. The chasm between his socialist beliefs and the opulent lifestyle to which he ultimately grew accustomed attracted criticism, to be sure, yet his literary reputation never sagged under the weight of that paradox.

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Stonermania and the Promise of Novel Diplomacy

Could a simple book about a simple man help mitigate America's image as a vulgar hegemon?

When it was first published in 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe's runaway bestseller Uncle Tom's Cabin sold some 300,000 copies in the United States (despite being banned in much of the South) but more than a million in Great Britain. By 1857 it had been translated into 20 languages. Thomas Paine, Edith Wharton, and Mario Puzo were all publishing sensations abroad, shaping America's image, for better or worse. Literature is a slippery form of cultural diplomacy. Who can predict which books will catch on, or how they will reflect on us? Are prolific American writers like Danielle Steel -- with hundreds of millions of global book sales -- now our most prominent ambassadors to the reading world?

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