Excerpted below is an article written by Frank Bajak in Cartagena in tribute to Nobel prize winner, Garcia Marquez:
Hailed by a crowd of more than a thousand who gave a standing ovation, Latin America's most famous living writer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, clasped his hands above his head like a prize fighter as he entered the auditorium in the Colombian port town of Cartagena. During a special tribute at the International Congress of Spanish language on Monday, the Nobel prize winning writer, who turned 80 years this month, recounted how his wife Mercedes had to hock her jewels to pay the rent and put food on the table for their two boys during the 18 months it took him him to write what many consider the greatest novel in Spanish since Don Quixote - One Hundred Years of Solitude.
"To think that a million people would read something written in the solitude of my room with 28 letters of the alphabet and two fingers as my sole arsenal seems insane," Garcia Marquez said, recalling that the novel's readers have now surpassed 50 million.
Attending the tribute, along with scores of writers, journalists, academics and Latin American presidents, were King Juan Carlos of Spain and former US president, Bill Clinton. "I believe he's the most important writer of fiction in any language since William Faulkner died," said Mr. Clinton, who recalled reading One Hundred Years when he was in law school and not being able to put it down even during classes.
Marquez revealed that when his master work was finished in August 1967 and he and his wife went to the post office to send it to his editor in Buenos Aires, they had only 53 pesos. It cost 82 pesos to send the parcel, so they sent only half of the manuscript. "Afterwards, we realized that we had sent not the first but the second part," he said. Luckily, the editor was so eager to read the first half, he forwarded to them the money so that they could send the rest. The rest, as they say, is history.