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Carlos Fuentes, author with key influence on Latin American fiction Nov. 11, 1928 -- May 15, 2012

Author Carlos Fuentes, who played a dominant role in Latin America's novel-writing boom by delving into the failed ideals of the Mexican revolution, died Tuesday in a hospital here. He was 83.

Mr. Fuentes died at the Angeles del Pedregal Hospital where he was taken after his personal doctor, Arturo Ballesteros, found him in shock in his Mexico City home. Ballesteros told reporters outside the hospital that the writer had a sudden internal hemorrhage.

The loss was immediately mourned worldwide via Twitter and across Mexican airwaves by everyone from fellow Mexican authors Elena Poniatowska and Jorge Volpi to reggaeton artist Rene Perez of the group Calle 13.

"I deeply lament the death of our beloved and admired Carlos Fuentes, a universal Mexican writer," said President Felipe Calderon on his Twitter account.

The prolific Mr. Fuentes wrote his first novel, "Where the Air is Clear," at age 29, laying the foundation for a boom in Spanish contemporary literature during the 1960s and 1970s.

His generation of writers, including Colombia's Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Peru's Mario Vargas Llosa, drew global readership and attention to Latin American culture during a period when strongmen ruled much of the region.

"The Death of Artemio Cruz," a novel about a post-revolutionary Mexico, brought Mr. Fuentes international acclaim.

He was asked in an unpublished 2006 interview why he didn't mention in the book the target of his criticism, the long-ruling, autocratic Institutional Revolutionary Party, known by its Spanish initials PRI. The PRI is now poised to take back the presidency in July 1 elections.

"There was no need to mention the PRI," Mr. Fuentes answered. "It is present by its absence."

The strapping, mustachioed author dressed smartly, ate well and moved easily between the capitals of Europe and Mexico City with his equally elegant wife, journalist Silvia Lemus.

His other classics included "Aura," "Terra Nostra" and "The Good Conscience." Many American readers know him for "The Old Gringo," a novel about San Francisco journalist Ambrose Bierce, who disappeared at the height of the 1910-20 Mexican Revolution. That book was later made into a 1989 film starring Gregory Peck and Jane Fonda.

Mr. Fuentes was often mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel Prize but never won one. True to his name, which means "fountains" in Spanish, he was a prolific writer, producing plays and short stories and co-founding a literary magazine. He was also a columnist, political analyst, essayist and critic.

And he was outspoken. Once considered a Communist and sympathizer of Cuba's Fidel Castro, Mr. Fuentes was denied entry into the United States under the McCarren-Walter Act.

Having spent some of his childhood in the United States as the son of a Mexican diplomat, he said it grated on him that his left-of-center politics meant he often was portrayed as anti-American.

"To call me anti-American is a stupendous lie, a calumny. I grew up in this country. When I was a little boy I shook the hand of Franklin Roosevelt and I haven't washed it since," he said with characteristic good humor in an unpublished 2006 interview in Los Angeles.

More recently, as a moderate leftist, Mr. Fuentes strongly opposed U.S. policies against immigration and the war on terrorism. He warned about Mexico's religious right but also blasted Venezuela's Hugo Chavez as a "Tropical Mussolini."

Mr. Fuentes was born in Panama City on Nov. 11, 1928, to Mexican parents. He lived most of his life abroad, growing up in Montevideo, Uruguay; Rio de Janeiro; Washington, D.C.; Santiago, Chile; and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

He was married from 1959 to 1973 to actress Rita Macedo, with whom he had his only surviving daughter.

After the couple divorced, Fuentes married Lemus, and they had two children together.

Mr. Fuentes also acknowledged having affairs with actresses including Jeanne Moreau and Jean Seberg.

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