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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, Fuentes was denied entry into the U.S. under the McCarren-Walter Act. Having spent some of his childhood in the U.S. 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. He was critical of American governments and of a rich country that should attend to its poor, but not of Americans and American culture.

“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boy I shook the hand of Franklin Roosevelt and I haven’t washed it since,” he said with characteristic good humor in an unpublished 2006 interview in Los Angeles.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, Fuentes strongly opposed U.S. tactics in the crackdown on immigration as part of the war on terrorism. He warned about Mexico’s religious right but also blasted Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez as a “Tropical Mussolini.”

He was very critical of Mexican drug violence that has killed more than 47,500 people since 2006, something he blamed on a failed policy by Calderon to attack organized crime. His 2008 book, “Destiny and Desire: A Novel,” was narrated by a severed head.

Fuentes, like his good friend Garcia Marquez, belonged to the tradition of literary author as social commentator.

“I wear two hats,” he said in the 2006 interview, likening himself to Honore de Balzac in producing a combination of human comedy, acute social portraits and ghost stories.

He said at the time he believed he had many more books in him.

“If I thought I had already peaked, I wouldn’t be sitting here. There’s always another book in there,” he said. There is “the psychosis of the empty page” he admitted, but he said “I sleep, dream, get up, write something.”

He had no favorites among his many books: “They are all my children. Maybe some are cross-eyed, but I love them all.”

A tweet from Mexican writer Hector Aguilar Camin said of Fuentes: “One of a kind. An era, his own genre. A writer for all seasons.”

Fuentes himself ventured onto Twitter for only one day, March 19, 2011. His last message read: “There must be something beyond slaughter and barbarism to support the existence of mankind and we must all help search for it.”

The author in 1987 won the Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world’s highest literary honor.

He also was named in 1997 a commander of the National Order of Merit, France’s highest civilian award given to a foreigner. Spain gave him a Prince of Asturias Award for literature in 1994.

Throughout his life, Fuentes also taught courses at Harvard, Princeton, Columbia and Brown universities in the United States.

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