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Rodrigo García

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

4:30 p.m. — Craft Talk, Multi-Purpose Room, Campus Center West Addition

7:30 p.m. — Conversation / Q&A, Recital Hall, UAlbany Performing Arts Center

University at Albany, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany NY 12222  

See map.

Filmmaker Rodrigo García presents A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes (2021), a memoir of his late parents— Gabriel García Márquez, a Colombian fiction writer whose work changed the face of world literature, and his wife of more than 50 years, Mercedes Barcha Pardo.

Márquez is best-known for One Hundred Years of Solitude, which William Kennedy called “the first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race” (New York Times).

Cosponsored by the Department of Latin American, Caribbean, and U.S. Latino Studies.

In the press 

“As dementia gripped Gabriel García Márquez, the writer known for his depictions of memory and time was on the verge of losing both. ‘Memory is my tool and my raw material. I cannot work without it,’ García Márquez would repeatedly plead to his son Rodrigo Garcia. ‘Help me.’
For García Márquez, his son realized, the worst part about dying was that it was the only part of his life he would not be able to write about. Now Garcia has done it for him in A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes, a poignant memoir pulling the curtain back on the days before García Márquez and his wife, Mercedes Barcha, died in Mexico City, in 2014 and 2020, respectively…. 

At the memorial service in Mexico City commemorating his father’s life, Garcia recalled one of his father’s sayings: ‘Everyone has three lives: the public, the private and the secret.’ As he watched the mourners assemble, he wondered whether any were from his father’s secret life. Life, García Márquez once wrote, is not what one lived but how one remembers it. Some of those memories will forever remain beyond reach.” -- The New York Times

Rodrigo Garcia, A Farewell to Gabo book cover
Mercedes Barcha Pardo, Gabriel García Márquez, and Rodrigo García. (undated family photo)

Mercedes Barcha Pardo, Gabriel García Márquez, and Rodrigo García. (undated family photo)

Salman Rushdie praised the memoir, saying, “This is a beautiful farewell to two extraordinary people. It enthralled and moved me, and it will move and enthrall anyone who has ever entered the glorious literary world of Gabriel García Márquez.”

"You read this short memoir with a feeling of deep gratitude. Yes, it is a moving homage by a son to his extraordinary parents, but also much more: it is a revelation of the hidden corners of a fascinating life. A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes is generous, unsentimental and wise.” —Juan Gabriel Vásquez, author of The Sound of Things Falling

“A warm homage filled with both fond and painful memories.” —Kirkus  

"Garcia’s limpid prose gazes calmly at death, registering pain but not being overcome by it . . . the result is a moving eulogy that will captivate fans of the literary lion." — Publishers Weekly

From the publisher

In March 2014, Gabriel García Márquez, one of the most acclaimed writers of the twentieth century, came down with a cold. The woman who had been beside him for more than fifty years, his wife Mercedes Barcha, was not hopeful; her husband, affectionately known as “Gabo,” was then nearly 87 and battling dementia. I don't think we'll get out of this one, she told their son Rodrigo. 

Hearing his mother’s words, Rodrigo wondered, “Is this how the end begins?” To make sense of events as they unfolded, he began to write the story of García Márquez’s final days. The result is this intimate and honest account that not only contemplates his father’s mortality but reveals his remarkable humanity.

Both an illuminating memoir and a heartbreaking work of reportage, A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes transforms this towering genius from literary creator to protagonist, and paints a rich and revelatory portrait of a family coping with loss. At its center is a man at his most vulnerable, whose wry humor shines even as his lucidity wanes. Gabo savors affection and attention from those in his orbit, but wrestles with what he will lose—and what is already lost. Throughout his final journey is the charismatic Mercedes, his constant companion and the creative muse who was one of the foremost influences on Gabo’s life and his art.

Bittersweet and insightful, surprising and powerful, A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes celebrates the formidable legacy of Rodrigo’s parents, offering an unprecedented look at the private family life of a literary giant. It is at once a gift to Gabriel García Márquez’s readers worldwide, and a grand tribute from a writer who knew him well. 

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