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Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Born in a small town in the tropical region of northern Colombia in 1928, Gabriel Garcia Marquez is widely considered one of the most important authors of the 20th century.

Though Garcia Marquez began his career, which includes many notable works on nonfiction, as a journalist, he is most widely known for his novels, including "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and "Love in the Time of Cholera." The former is widely considered Garcia Marquez' masterpiece and has subsequently been translated into 37 languages while selling more than 20 million copies. The book took Garcia Marquez 18 months to write, forcing his wife to ask for food on credit and the family to live on credit from their landlord for nearly a year. Eventually, however, Garcia Marquez's efforts proved worthwhile, as the book became his most financially successful novel.

The recognition Garcia Marquez earned with "One Hundred Years of Solitude" enabled him to act as a facilitator in negotiations between the Colombian government and several guerilla movements, including M-19 and FARC.

Among his many accomplishments, Garcia Marquez is noted for popularizing magical realism, a genre of fiction that blends magical elements with the real world. It was that style that helped Garcia Marquez become an influential figure in the Latin American Boom, a literary movement of the 1960s and 1970s that challenged the established conventions of Latin American literature while advocating political and social changes as well.

Another of Garcia Marquez' notable accomplishments was winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982 for his novels and short stories. Upon winning the award, Garcia Marquez became the first Colombian and just the fourth Latin American to win a Nobel Prize in Literature.

Despite false reports of his impending death more than a decade ago, Garcia Marquez continued to write into the 21st century. In 2009, a Chilean newspaper reported Garcia Marquez was unlikely to write again.