Mexican author Carlos Fuentes dead at 83

 
Carlos Fuentes in a file photo from 2008 Fuentes' works gave an insight into Mexican identity

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The Mexican author Carlos Fuentes has died, aged 83.

Fuentes was one of the most prolific Latin American writers known equally for his fiction and his essays on politics and culture.

His most famous works were The Death of Artemio Cruz and The Old Gringo.

He was associated with the Latin American Boom - a literary movement made up of mainly young authors whose politically critical works broke with established traditions.

He died in a hospital in Mexico City. Hospital sources did not comment on his cause of death.

Mr Fuentes wrote a wealth of novels, plays and essays and regularly commented on political events in Spanish newspaper El Pais.

Born in Panama in 1928, he did not move to Mexico until he was 16.

The son of a diplomat, Mr Fuentes spent much of his childhood moving around the Western Hemisphere.

He said it was this which allowed him to view Latin America from a distance, giving him a critical edge.

'Universal Mexican'

In many of his works he drew on historical events.

Start Quote

He was constantly, constantly championing the younger people”

End Quote Ariel Dorfman

His narrative, like that of his contemporaries of the Latin American Boom, was rarely linear, instead relying on flashbacks and changing perspectives.

Among English-language readers he is arguably best known for his novel The Old Gringo, which was made into a film starring Gregory Peck in 1989.

The novel was inspired by the real-life disappearance of American journalist Ambrose Bierce during the 1910-1920 Mexican Revolution.

He was also outspoken in his political views, and was a vocal critic of US administrations, including Washington's policies on immigration and the war on terror.

Fuentes was also highly critical of Mexican politics, and in a recent interview with the BBC World Service, he called for a different approach to the war on drugs.

He also described the three main candidates in the Mexican presidential election as "mediocre".

'Deep imprint'

Cultural and political figures around the world expressed their grief at the news of his death.

"I am profoundly sorry for the death of our loved and admired Carlos Fuentes, writer and universal Mexican. Rest in peace," Mexican President Felipe Calderon wrote on Twitter.

The front-runner in July's election, Enrique Pena Nieto, said he had not always agreed with Fuentes on political matters but that he recognised his "extraordinary work".

Nobel Prize-winning Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa told Spanish daily newspaper El Pais that "with him, we lose a writer whose work and whose presence left a deep imprint".

Mexican novelist Jose Agustin told BBC Mundo that Carlos Fuentes "became an essential protagonist in Mexican political and cultural life. He had an immense value, from his first launch in the 1950s he never once backed down for anybody".

Chilean-American writer Ariel Dorfman said Fuentes had an amazing generosity of spirit.

"He was constantly, constantly championing the younger people. I never heard him say anything nasty about anybody," Dorfman told the BBC.

Mr Fuentes had often been mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel Prize but never won.

Among the many major literary awards he did win was the Cervantes Prize in 1987.

He continued to write until the end, with an essay on the recent change of power in France published in Mexican newspaper Reforma on Tuesday, the same day the Angeles del Pedregal hospital announced his death.

 

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  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 34.

    I'm sure his family will be saddened by his passing. But, is this really international news?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 33.

    Adios, Maestro. You transcended the world with your words and you were never afraid to attack the enemies of independence, not just political independence but independence of thought and creativity.
    I wish you an eternity well spent with the Old Gringo.
    Maria Valdemi

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 32.

    Never read a word of what he wrote, I am sure he was a good writer, so I wish him to rest in peace and my condolences to his family.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 31.

    Fuentes won so many major literary prizes, including Spain's coveted Cervantes award; it's hard to believe the Nobel eluded him.
    Mexico has lost one of its most brilliant literary & political minds...

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 30.

    Fuentes was an OPEN & vocal critic of Mexico's entrenched political system under Institutional Revolutionary Party - ruled 71 years before it was ousted in 2000 elections. He was also a critic of US role in civil wars of Central America in 1980s; he lambasted effects of US immigration policy on Mexican migrant workers in his mid-1990s novel, "La Frontera de Cristal" (The Crystal Frontier).

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 29.

    Carlos Fuentes was an internationally beloved character, his death is not only a great loss for Mexico but for every country that was touched by him. Here in the UK he served as ambassador and since then kept close ties. 10 years ago he founded the Society of Mexican Students in the UK and was an honorary figure for both nations. A great author and political critic that will be truly missed.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 28.

    Carlos Fuentes, one of Latin America's best-known authors, but also (& I think equally important) a sharp critic of govs in Mexico & US. "The Old Gringo" was the first US bestseller by a Mexican author; it was made into a movie in 1989 movie, starring Gregory Peck and Jane Fonda.
    Without a doubt the world has lost a first-rate mind, never idle, always thinking.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 27.

    For me, Fuentes is to be celebrated not only as an author, a political thinker, and an intellectual, but also as a great seducer of women. This is a combination we see too rarely in the English speaking world.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 26.

    After Julio in 1984, it is Fuentes now. It is a sad news. But he will always be remembered for his works and as one of the major "boom" writers of Latin American literature.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 25.

    Carlos Fuentes was one of the most prolific and intellectual minds in literature. His loss is the leading news in the BBC mundo website and most of the Spanish speaking media around the world. He was deeply admired by millions of people. To the passive illiterates asking, who? there's Wikipedia and there're those things called books written by people like Carlos Fuentes.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 24.

    @17 HooHmm

    Just because a HYS is opened does not mean that you have to comment on it. Or be upset by the person's passing, in fact I find the public moarning or well known figures very insincire. However, having a eulogy for someone who was in important author in some circles is valid and the HYS is there for people who were aware of him and would like to pay tribute. It's not all about you.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 23.

    15.
    Steven

    You misunderstand or I didn't make clear what I meant.

    I'm certainly not saying ALL Americans are ignorant, on the contrary I know this not to be the case. Unfortunately your media and increasingly mine only seem to cater for those that are ignorant and will accept anything they are told to the detriment of those who are tolerant, open minded and question news presented as 'fact'.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 22.

    One of my favourite authors. A clear thinker with independence of mind. If you are not familiar with his work may I suggest you read "The Death of Artemio Cruz". RIP.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 21.

    20

    Why not? In life, we must frequently generalise. Indeed, generalisation is the highest goal of Science. And, in this case, the generalisation is valid and accurate.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 20.

    Arnold55555 - Isn't the fact that The Old Gringo appeared in the bestseller list disputing the very fact that you are trying to make. This means it wasn't just one American but many that read it. My point was not to make generalization around national stereotypes.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 19.

    To M.

    I would urge you to ignore the puerile and defensive admonishments of comment 15. Steven believes that one American's reading a couple of books, one of which - "Gringo Vieji" incidentally topped the US bestsellers list, places beyond doubt his nation's cultural catholicism. This very fact points to the contrary.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 18.

    I recommend Aura and Gringo Viejo. I really enjoyed these books by Carlos Fuentes.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 17.

    @12

    So, I should be wailing and gnashing my teeth over someone I have never heard of?

    I'm sure there are hundreds of writers who you have never heard of, are you ignorant? I feel that HYS have missed the point if they used a forum to let people gush false platitudes at a relativity unknown author?

    There are much more pressing issues that HYS should be allowing us to comment on!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 16.

    I agree with the comments below alluding to the ignorance of the first comment. I think it a sad reflection on the blinkard attitudes of some in our society if they do not see the need to report on and learn about people, cultures &countries globally. Perhaps said contributor should have seen this as an opportunity to broaden their horizons and learn about a truly wonderful Mexican author.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 15.

    To M: While you are the most sensible of the comments you actually fall into a stereotpe in the assumption that Americans are ignorant about other cultures. As an American I was not only aware of Carlos Fuentes but also had read some of his works. Please refrain from making stereotypical comments in the future.

 

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