Letter From Colombia by Michael Jacobs

Michael Jacobs

Letter From Colombia


It was shortly after midnight, in a crowded salsa bar in the Colombian port of Cartagena de Indias, at the start of the city’s fifth Hay Literary Festival. Only a couple of hours before, at a palace reception hosted by President Uribe’s book-loving wife Lina, I had been talking to the Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa; and now, in the noisy backroom of the Mazurco Social Club, I was watching the other giant of Hispanic literature, Gabriel García Márquez.

That Márquez, on one of his increasingly rare returns to his native Colombia, should make a public appearance not at some formal social or literary occasion, but in a popular bar, says much about his personality, and about Columbia. ‘Gabo’, as he is affectionately known here, is thought

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