By Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé


Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

To do otherwise would be to deny an integral part of myself. I write because I must, because of my addiction to the feel of an ink pen between my fingers scribbling word-code onto one blank page after another. To me, writing is an aesthetic pleasure that sets every fibre of my being into vibration, when I’m actually doing it. The other reason I write is to be able to make sense of my own thoughts and feelings, and creatively express them onto the page or screen. Sometimes, just the writing process is a form of catharsis for me, even though my scribbles make no sense.

Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?

My last book, Afterlife: Ghost stories from Goa, published by Rupa (2012) is a novel that follows the lives of X generations within a Goan family. At a get-together to celebrate the patriarch’s 75th birthday, there is a powercut that leads organically to the family swapping ghost-stories. Through the process or sharing oral histories, the family history and some secrets are revealed. The structure became an important part of telling the story of the family; I used a frame narrative device to interlink the individual stories. It’s more of a commentary about the social mores of South Goan society, diasporic culture and religious aspects among other things. My intention was to create a story that wasn’t just about ‘ghosts’ but about the things that haunt us emotionally and psychologically.

Describe your writing aesthetic.

Excavating words to reveal complex layers of emotion. At least, that’s the aspiration!

Richard Flanagan, the recent winner of the prestigious Booker prize, has expressed his admiration for Hispanic writers such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges and Roberto Bolaño, among others.

Flanagan, dubbed “Australia’s Ernest Hemingway” by filmmaker Baz Lurhmann for being immensely intellectual while retaining his sense of adventure, has voiced his passion for various Latin American authors in interviews and texts he has written.

Had it not been for great translators, doyens of literature wouldn’t have been household names, says Suresh Menon

Gabriel García Márquez in Monterrey in 2007Gabriel García MárquezI read recently that there are some 60 literary festivals in our country annually. Yet, how many of these dedicate a whole festival or a day of the festival or even a single session to a discussion on that most neglected aspect of literature: translation? We know who wrote One Hundred Years of Solitude, Hopscotch, Name of The Rose, The Unbearable Lightness of Being and a hundred other classics. But how many of us know who translated these works so we could enjoy them in a language we understand?

Gabriel García Márquez in Monterrey in 2007Gabriel García MárquezGabriel Garcia Marquez, who died on Thursday at the age of 87, was arguably the most-read contemporary foreign writer in China in more than three decades.

In the early 1980s, his works triggered a new literary trend – the root-searching school of writing – and since then he has become an icon for his readers.

Chinese Nobel laureate in literature Mo Yan, once known as the “Chinese Garcia Marquez”, is among his fans. Mo said he has tried to escape the Spanish-language writer’s influence for 20 years.

As I got sucked into the great filigree of García Márquez’s narrative I felt as if I’d been given back a trunk of family treasures that had been stolen from me when I was eight years old, the age when I first began reading English properly: The Telegraph, India

Gabriel García Márquez in Monterrey in 2007Gabriel García MárquezAs I’ve written elsewhere, I was pointed towards One Hundred Years of Solitude when I was in my early twenties and living in New York City. The pleasurable shock of reading that book is still vivid in my bones. Looking back, I realize I was till that point completely a hostage of el Norte, of the Anglo-Americo-European north, and its limited notions of what comprised a good story, what comprised a novel, what comprised the list of narrative forms admissible in a serious work or art. As I got sucked into the great filigree of García Márquez’s narrative I felt as if I’d been given back a trunk of family treasures that had been stolen from me when I was eight years old, the age when I first began reading English properly. Sweltering in that New York August, suddenly the Ramayan, the Mahabharat, the Panchatantra, and all the crazy folk tales, were all back with me, all of them now open pathways, inviting me out of the deep parochialism that often streaks through places that imagine they are the centre of the universe.

The greatest writer of our time showed us that a large and generous heart is no impediment to genius, says Peter Carey

Gabriel García Márquez in Monterrey in 2007Gabriel García MárquezSometime in the very early 1970s two Australian friends returned from Colombia and asked me to ghostwrite the story of their adventures, which included a conversation with an unknown writer named Gabriel García Márquez. In an effort to overcome my reluctance they lent me an English edition of One Hundred Years of Solitude. None of us understood that they had thereby changed my life.

I tried, and failed, to help them memorialise their adventure. Worse, I “forgot” to return the book. Worse still, I arrogantly decided that this novel by this unknown writer would be of far more use to me than it could ever be to them.

Colombian author became standard-bearer for Latin American letters after success of One Hundred Years of Solitude: The Guardian

Gabriel García Márquez in Monterrey in 2007 Gabriel García MárquezThe Colombian Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez, who unleashed the worldwide boom in Spanish language literature and magical realism with his novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, died at the age of 87. He had been admitted to hospital in Mexico City on 3 April with pneumonia.

Matching commercial success with critical acclaim, García Márquez became a standard-bearer for Latin American letters, establishing a route for negotiations between guerillas and the Colombian government, building a friendship with Fidel Castro and maintaining a feud with fellow literature laureate Mario Vargas Llosa that lasted more than 30 years.

The Chinese just love to read – both books originally written in Chinese and works translated from foreign languages: China Daily

MurakamiJ. K. Rowling tops the list with 8.5 million yuan ($1.4 million), Haruki Murakami follows with 6million and Gabriel Garcia Marquez is in third place with 4 million. After several foreign children’s writers, Alice Munro is in 15th place with 1 million yuan thanks to her Nobel win in2013.  “The top two have been on the rich list for three years,” says Wu Huaiyao, a publishingobserver who compiled the list.