Ilan Stavans, the Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College and Five College 40th Anniversary Professor, has published Gabriel García Márquez: The Early Years (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, $25 hardcover). The book is a comprehensive reexamination of the early life of García Márquez, the celebrated Colombian writer, up until the 1967 publication of his novel One Hundred Years of Solitude.
Born in 1927, García Márquez began his career as a journalist and later took to writing short stories, novellas and novels. He is credited with popularizing the literary style known as magical realism, and he went on to win a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982 and to publish Love in the Time of Cholera in 1985. Stavans plans to detail the latter part of the author’s life in a second book.Of his many years of research for the biographies, Stavans says, “I traveled repeatedly to Colombia, Mexico, and Spain, visiting the sites where García Márquez lived … discussing his oeuvre with members of his generation, critics [and] editors.” He notes that he also drew from the courses he has taught at Amherst on One Hundred years of Solitude: “My terrific students have posed probing questions that pushed me to understand the author and his classic book in unforeseen ways.”
Gabriel García Márquez: The Early Years has already drawn critical praise. Author and Harvard professor Werner Sollors writes, “Stavans offers a vivid and humane account of Gabriel García Márquez and his world in the first four decades of his life, from the banana trains of his native Aracataca and the Caribbean ... to his experience as a journalist in Europe, his belief in Hemingway’s power as a writer, and the surprise of One Hundred Years of Solitude and of his sudden emergence as a world-famous writer….” Author Julia Alvarez calls the book an “engaging, informative study tracking the small beginnings of a literary giant and his magnum opus” and adds, “Stavans enlightens us, not just about one literary figure, but about the culture and history of a whole hemisphere... Stavans is a magical writer himself.”
The New York Times has called Stavans “One of the most influential figures in Latino literature in the United States.” In addition to teaching courses at Amherst, he has written numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including The Disappearance, Resurrecting Hebrew, The Hispanic Condition and, earlier this winter, A Critic’s Journey. He is the editor of such other collections as The Oxford Book of Jewish Stories, The Poetry of Pablo Neruda, Isaac Bashevis Singer: Collected Stories and Becoming Americans: Four Centuries of Immigrant Writing. His many awards and honors include an Emmy nomination, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Pablo Neruda Medal, the Latino Literature Prize, the Antonia Pantoja Award and Chile’s Presidential Medal.