Looking for the Patriarch

Gabriel García Márquez: A Life
by Gerald Martin
Knopf, 642 pages, $37.50

When Gabriel García Márquez finished writing One Hundred Years of Solitude in August 1966, he was almost forty, the father of two young boys, and so broke that he didn’t have enough money to send the manuscript from Mexico City to his prospective publisher in Buenos Aires. The anecdote is famous, one of many that have contributed to García Márquez’s carefully molded public image as a literary populist and everyman genius. In his admiring biography of the writer, Gerald Martin reports:

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