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Mexico editor: García Márquez left unpublished manuscript

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos listens to Mozart''s Requiem played in honour of García Márquez at the Cathedral in Bogota.

Novelist Gabriel García Márquez left behind an unpublished manuscript that he chose not to print while he was alive, an editor told reporters yesterday as the writer’s compatriots held a musical tribute to him in his native Colombia.

Cristóbal Pera, editorial director of Penguin Random House Mexico, said that García Márquez’s family has not yet decided whether to allow the book to come out posthumously, or which publishing house would get the rights. García Márquez died at his Mexico City home on April 17.

The manuscript has a working title of We’ll See Each Other in August, (En Agosto Nos Vemos).

An excerpt of the manuscript published in Spain’s La Vanguardia newspaper contains what appears to be an opening chapter, describing a trip taken by a 50-ish married woman who visits her mother’s grave on a tropical island every year. In the chapter, she has an affair with a man of about the same age at the hotel where she stays. The erotic tone of the work is heightened by the island’s tropical charm, with deftly drawn touches of the heat, the landscape, music, and local inhabitants. The manuscript apparently dates to about the time García Márquez was writing his last novel, Memories of my Melancholy Whores, which was published in 2004, and deals with similar themes of forms of love; García Márquez, beset by a failing memory, apparently did not write much in recent years. “I’m not going to write anymore,” Mexican writer Homero Aridjis recalls García Márquez telling him in 2005. García Márquez biographer Gerald Martín said the manuscript apparently started as a short story. “This has come as a surprise to me. The last time I talked to Gabo about this story it was a stand-alone which he was going to include in a book with three similar but independent stories,” Martín said.

“Now they’re talking about a series of episodes in which the woman turns up and has a different adventure each year,” he wrote in an email. “Obviously it makes sense and presumably Gabo really did play with it, presumably some years ago.”

Tribute in Colombia

In Bogota, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos presided yesterday over a tribute held in García Márquez’s honour. The Bogota Symphony Orchestra performed Mozart’s Requiem in the capital’s colonial-era cathedral, which was festooned with thousands of roses in yellow, the author’s favourite colour.

The ceremony also included a performance of the accordion-heavy vallenato music García Márquez loved and which accompanied him in 1982 when he was awarded in Stockholm the Nobel prize for literature.

Around Colombia, a marathon public reading of García Márquez’s No One Writes to the Colonel is planned today at 1,400 public libraries. The Culture Ministry has distributed 12,000 copies of the book for the occasion. Colombia’s government will also unveil at a book fair next week details of a US$100,000 literary prize bearing the author’s name that will annually honour the best short story written in Spanish.

In Cuba, the state news agency Prensa Latina announced that this year’s Havana Film Festival will be dedicated to the author. García Márquez was a longtime friend of former leader Fidel Castro and also a major backer of Cuba’s marquee international cinema bash, held every December.

AP

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