The son of one of the greatest writers of our time—Nobel Prize winner and internationally best-selling icon Gabriel García Márquez—remembers his beloved father and mother in this tender memoir about love and loss.
In March 2014, Gabriel García Márquez, one of the most acclaimed writers of the twentieth century, came down with a cold. The woman who had been beside him for more than fifty years, his wife Mercedes Barcha, was not hopeful; her husband, affectionately known as “Gabo,” was then nearly 87 and battling dementia. I don’t think we’ll get out of this one, she told their son Rodrigo.
Hearing his mother’s words, Rodrigo wondered, “Is this how the end begins?” To make sense of events as they unfolded, he began to write the story of García Márquez’s final days. The result is this intimate and honest account that not only contemplates his father’s mortality but reveals his remarkable humanity.
Both an illuminating memoir and a heartbreaking work of reportage, A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes transforms this towering genius from literary creator to protagonist, and paints a rich and revelatory portrait of a family coping with loss. At its center is a man at his most vulnerable, whose wry humor shines even as his lucidity wanes. Gabo savors affection and attention from those in his orbit, but wrestles with what he will lose—and what is already lost. Throughout his final journey is the charismatic Mercedes, his constant companion and the creative muse who was one of the foremost influences on Gabo’s life and his art.
Bittersweet and insightful, surprising and powerful, A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes celebrates the formidable legacy of Rodrigo’s parents, offering an unprecedented look at the private family life of a literary giant. It is at once a gift to Gabriel García Márquez’s readers worldwide, and a grand tribute from a writer who knew him well.
Reviews of A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes: A Son’s Memoir of Gabriel Garcίa Marquez and Mercedes Barcha
- When the child of a globally recognized literary giant publishes a memoir, the pressure of inevitable comparison must be immense. And yet Garcia, the son of Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez, has chosen to focus on the waning years of his parents’ lives, when the immediate glare of the spotlights had long passed. This allows Garcia to write candidly about an incredibly painful time, as his father slipped into dementia and eventual hospitalization. The result is an intensely personal reflection on his father’s legacy and his family bonds, tender in its treatment and stirring in its brevity. Composed in short chapters of concise, honest prose, Garcia’s book pulls back the curtain to provide a view denied to journalists, photographers, and even the doctors and nurses who crowded his father’s hospital quarters, eager to get a peek atthe dying star. Perhaps Garcia’s experiences as a television and film producer helped him frame each sequence with a cinematic lens, as it seems every remembrance is rendered with uniquely exacting energy, such as when his father no longer recognizes his sons, or how on the flight back from his father’s funeral, he sees a fellow passenger reading One Hundred Years of Solitude. An intimate portrait of immense loss.— Diego Báez