MEXICO CITY (AP) - 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 Mexico City hospital. He was 83.
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 that caused him to lose consciousness.
The loss was 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.
The prolific 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. He published an essay on the change of power in France in the newspaper Reforma on Tuesday, the same day he died.
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.
Fuentes was the driving force in bringing together the Latin writers who collectively became known as “The Boom”, said Raymond L. Williams, a professor of Latin American literature at the University of California, Riverside.
“It took Fuentes‘ vision to say if we unite forces and provide a common political and literary voice, we’ll have more impact,” Williams said. “His home in Pedregal (an upscale Mexico City neighborhood) was the intellectual center what brought a lot of writers together.”
He was asked in an unpublished 2006 interview why he didn’t mention in the book the target of his criticism, the long-ruling, autocratic Institutional Revolutionary Party, known by its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,” 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 1910-1920 Mexican Revolution. That book was later made into a 1989 film starring Gregory Peck and Jane Fonda.
Mexican historian Enrique Krauze was considered Fuentes‘ harshest critic, saying the writer was out of touch with Mexico. But Krauze acknowledged his talents on Tuesday, calling Fuentes an “author of lasting novels and short stories, a vigorous, enriching presence.”
“That’s all I should say,” he told The Associated Press.