Latin America reacts to death of literary colossus Gabriel García Márquez

Singer Shakira joins presidents of Colombia and Mexico, as well as Bill Clinton, in paying tribute to Nobel prize-winner

The death of Latin American literary giant Gabriel García Márquez prompted immediate reaction from across the continent and beyond, almost as soon as the first rumours hit the internet early on Thursday afternoon.

Politicians weighed in quickly with Juan Manuel Santos, president of Colombia, tweeting: "A thousand years of solitude and sadness after the death of the greatest Colombian of all time," referring to the author's masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude.

The novel has reputedly sold 30 million copies since its publication in 1967.

Enrique Peña Nieto, president of Mexico – the novelist's adopted home – expressed his condolences over the death of "one of the greatest writers of our time".

Former US president Bill Clinton, García Márquez's personal friend, was quoted extolling his "great heart and brilliant mind". He added: "I was always amazed by his unique gifts of imagination, clarity of thought and emotional honesty."

Tributes were also paid by literary figures and by pop stars and actors – from across Latin America and the world.

Cristobal Pera, the author's editor at Penguin Random House in Mexico, told the Associated Press that García Márquez was "like the Mandela of literature, because of the impact he has had on readers all over the world".

Others compared him to Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo.

Colombian singer Shakira wrote: "We will remember your life, dear Gabo, like a unique and unrepeatable gift, and the most original of stories."

American actor James Franco tweeted: "100 Years of Solitude. Gabriel García Márquez, we will never forget."

The 87-year-old writer died in his home as a result of complications from pneumonia. Earlier this month he had been admitted to hospital, staying there for about a week.

The head of Mexico's arts council, Rafael Tovar y de Teresa, used his statement confirming the initial rumours to delve into the complexities of the man behind the Nobel laureate.

"The good moods and bad moods of Gabriel García Márquez were always legendary," the statement said.

"He could launch a bitter diatribe against a journalist who tried to get through his rule of not giving interviews and seconds later smile and stick his tongue out in a sign of a truce.

"That personality had a lot to do with his roots, and his contact with a family that was as strange, fantastic and archetypal as the characters in his books."

Meanwhile, there was still no word from one of his closest friends, Fidel Castro, Cuba's former communist revolutionary president.

• This article was amended on 18 April 2014. The earlier version ended "Nor was there any reaction [to Gabriel García Márquez's death] from his nearest living literary equivalent, Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa who in the past had called García Márquez 'Castro's courtesan'." In fact Vargas Llosa gave a brief statement on this the Spanish newspaper El País.


Jo Tuckman in Mexico City

The GuardianTramp

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