Tributes paid to the late Carlos Fuentes
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Tributes paid to the late Carlos Fuentes

16th May 2012

Tributes have been paid to the prolific author, essayist and playwright Carlos Fuentes, one of the most acclaimed writers in the Spanish-speaking world, who has died at the age of 83.

Fuentes produced some of the most highly regarded works ever written in Spanish, including Happy Families and The Old Gringo, and in 1992 was awarded the Miguel de Cervantes Prize, one of the richest literary awards in the world.

Born in Panama City in 1928 to Mexican parents, Fuentes spent much of his early life travelling the world, before publishing his first novel, Where the Air is Clear, in 1957, establishing him on the literary scene.

Many more works followed, including plays, short stories and essays addressing political issues in Spanish-speaking countries and their status in the world, while Fuentes also served as a diplomat in the 1970s, establishing relations between Mexico and Europe.

In 1985, The Old Gringo became the first-ever bestseller in the US to be written by a Mexican author and was later adapted into a 1989 film starring Gregory Peck.

Following his death, contemporaries including Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa paid tribute to Fuentes, highlighting his significant contribution to contemporary Latin American literature.

'With him, we lose a writer whose work and whose presence left a deep imprint,' Vargas Llosa told the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

Mexican novelist Jose Agustin said Fuentes will perhaps be best remembered for his tenacity.

'He became an essential protagonist in Mexican political and cultural life. He had an immense value; from his first launch in the 1950s he never once backed down for anybody,' Agustin added.

Fuentes' stature in his own country and around the world was summarised by Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

'I am profoundly sorry for the death of our loved and admired Carlos Fuentes, writer and universal Mexican. Rest in peace.'

© W&G Foyle Ltd