Gabriel Garcia Marquez is born in Arataca, Colombia. As a child, his grandmother told him fantastic stories of magical events, relating them as if they were fact. These early stories helped shape his own signature writing style, later known as "magical realism."
Garcia Marquez studied law and journalism at the National University of Colombia at Bogota and later at the University of Cartagena. In 1948, he became a reporter for the Colombian newspaper El Espectador and worked as a foreign correspondent in Rome, Paris, Barcelona, Caracas, and New York during the next decade. He also began writing short stories during this time. His first important fiction collection, Leaf Storm and Other Stories, was published in 1955 and introduced the fictional Colombian village of Macondo, where many of his later stories and novels are set.
In the 1960s, Garcia Marquez moved to Mexico City, where he worked as a screenwriter, journalist, and publicist. In Mexico, he wrote one of his best-known novels, One Hundred Years of Solitude, published in 1967. He moved to Barcelona in 1973 and also made many trips to Cuba, where he became close personal friends with communist dictator Fidel Castro. His friendship with Castro and his left-leaning politics made him politically unpopular with the U.S. government, but his books continued to sell well. Garcia Marquez won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. Other major works include Love in the Time of Cholera (1985) and The General in His Labyrinth (1989).
In 1999, Garcia Marquez was diagnosed with cancer. He began writing his memoirs, the first of which, Vivir para contarla, was published in 2002. The English translation, Living to Tell the Tale was released the next year.