Carlos Fuentes, 83, has died
Renowned Spanish-language novelist Carlos Fuentes died Tuesday in Mexico City at age 83, authorities announced. Fuentes was a prolific, politically engaged writer, best known in the U.S. for books including “The Death of Artemio Cruz,” “Aura,” “Terra Nostra,” “The Good Conscience” and “The Old Gringo,” which was made into a film starring Gregory Peck. In an interview published Monday in the Spanish newspaper El Pais, Fuentes said he had just completed a new novel, titled "Federico on His Balcony."
In that interview, Fuentes said, "My system of youth is to work a lot," and that he had a project pending. In 2006, after the death of his 29-year-old daughter, Fuentes told The Times, "It was very painful.... It puts a premium on your own soul. How do you go on living? How do you make people go on living within you? It nullifies you or sends you into work. Work saves you."
Born in Panama City in 1928 to Mexican parents, Fuentes lived in Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, France, Mexico, England and the U.S., where he had taught at Brown, Harvard, Princeton and Columbia. He was often spoken of in conjunction with other writers of his generation from Latin America, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mario Vargas Llosa, both of whom have won the Nobel Prize; although Fuentes received many prestigious awards, the Nobel eluded him.
"At home, Fuentes remained until the end outspoken on issues of the day," our World Now blog reports. "His most recent column — about the presidential election in France — was published Tuesday in the daily Reforma newspaper. Disdainful of many Mexican politicians, he tacked a note at the end taking aim at the tone of Mexico’s own presidential race, which he said sacrificed discussion of big issues for candidates’ petty attempts to knock each other down."
Between 1992 and 2011, Fuentes was interviewed five times by KCRW's Michael Silverblatt. The first four interviews were directly related to books. In the most recent interview, posted in two parts, the two discuss culture, politics and writing. All the interviews can be streamed online.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: Carlos Fuentes in 2008. Credit: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images