Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Nobel laureate whose novels and short stories exposed tens of millions of readers to Latin America's passion, superstition, violence, and inequality, died today at his home in Mexico City at age 87. Widely considered the most popular Spanish-language writer since Miguel de Cervantes in the 17th century, the Colombia native achieved literary celebrity that spawned comparisons to Mark Twain and Charles Dickens.
His flamboyant and melancholy fictional works—among them Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Love in the Time of Cholera, and Autumn of the Patriarch—outsold everything published in Spanish except the Bible. The epic 1967 novel One Hundred Years of Solitude sold more than 50 million copies in more than 25 languages. His stories made him literature's best-known practitioner of magical realism, the fictional blending of the everyday with fantastical elements such as a boy born with a pig's tail and a man trailed by a swarm of yellow butterflies. When he accepted the Nobel prize in 1982, Garcia Marquez described Latin America as a "source of insatiable creativity, full of sorrow and beauty, of which this roving and nostalgic Colombian is but one cipher more, singled out by fortune."