The Flight of a Very Old Man Born with Enormous Wings

The demise of Gabriel Garcia Marquez is more than a casual newspaper heading. It’s the death of a gigantic writer whose mighty pen and magic could win the hearts of almost all readers everywhere. Along with the rest of the world, the Iranian literati – that had enjoyed the Marquez Effect for four decades – now pity the loss of their Colombian Muse.

The first and so far the best translation (by late Bahman Farzaneh) of Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude was published in 1974 by Amir Kabir Publications. It hit a high record of success and put its magic spell on almost all Iranian writers as well as avid readers of the time. The craze for Magic Realism declined though, after two or three decades of steady publication of almost all his works, with the arrival of new voices. In 1990s, in line with the decline of the Marquez Effect, periodicals and newspapers started to speak of ‘the end of One Hundred Years of Solitude,’ yet the book sales statistics would go against it. In 2012, simultaneous with the publication of Bolano’s writings in Persian as the new Latin American hero, another translation of The Autumn of the Patriarch was released by Saless Publications.

In the last few days many critics have declared the Marquez Effect a transitory craze doomed to decline, while some others still regard him as the spiritual father of an aspiring generation that in the end, failed to internalize or localize magic realism – hence they came to no end and perforce dropped him in favor of more promising techniques.

It is often taken for granted, however, that the Iranian craze for magic realism partially resulted from their historical affinity with the genre, of the tales they had heard from their grandmothers – the true heirs of Scheherzade’s storytelling tradition. A revival of grandmotherly telling of tales, Magic Realism sparked up their memories of the past that had been waning already under the influence of the western Modernist trends.

A quick look at The Parsagon Review’s Top 7×7 List shows that four out of ten participating writers – those who have spent the prime in the period of Latin American Boom – have mentioned Marquez as a lifelong inspiration. And so do we raise our hats (and probably our veils) in respect for the eternal flight of a very old man born with enormous wings.

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Farzaneh Doosti

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