December 13, 2013
Colombian writer Álvaro Mutis dies
Colombian writer and poet Álvaro Mutis, who won the Cervantes Prize in 2001 and was a close friend of Nobel Laurate Gabriel García Márquez, died on Sunday in Mexico — where he was living since 1956 —, after suffering from a long illness. He was 90.
Mutis, one of the best poets and narrators of his generation and a great exponent of “magical realism”, wrote a large number of excellent works.
Apart from the Cervantes Prize, he was honoured with other awards such as the Príncipe de Asturias de las Letras and the Reina Sofía de Poesía (both in 1997) and the Premio Médicis for best foreign language novel in France for La nieve del almirante (1988) and the Grinzane-Cavour of Italy (1997).
Mutis’ life in Colombia changed abruptly in 1956, after being accused of funds misappropriation in Esso oil company — where he was public relations chief —, during the Gustavo Rojas Pinilla (1953-1957) military dictatorship. He was forced into exile in Mexico, where he lived until death
There, he usually met with lots of artists such as Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, Luis Buñuel and Fernando Botero, among other.
In 2004 García Márquez confessed that three decades ago he had arrived to Mexico for one week to visit his friend Mutis and, consequently, he stayed in the country, where he wrote his masterpiece Cien años de soledad (1967).
Mutis once said about García Márquez that their relationship was a true and sincere friendship.
Although Mutis works were mainly poetry, in 1986 he released his first novel La nieve del Almirante, which was his fundamental contribution to fiction.
In his books, the enigmatic character Maqroll, El Gaviero, stands out. It is his “alter ego”, a sailor who stars in Mutis fictions and poetry, who appeared in Los elementos del desastre (1953).
His works include Un bel morir (1989), La última escala del Tramp Steamer (1990), La muerte del estratega (1990), Amirbar (1990), Abdul Bashur, soñador de navíos (1991), and Empresas y tribulaciones de Maqroll el Gaviero (1997).
Mutis also worked as a radio speaker, cinema executive, radio actor, columnist and advertising director.
One of his son, Santiago Mutis, said yesterday that his father had a good relationship with death.
Herald with AP, Telam