Tributes poured today for Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Nobel-winning Colombian author whose "magical realism" told epic stories of love, family and dictatorship in Latin America.
Marquez died yesterday at age 87. Known affectionately as "Gabo," the author of "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and "Love in the Time of Cholera" was one of the world's most popular Latin American writers and godfather of a literary movement that witnessed a continent in turmoil.
The longtime journalist befriended Cuban leader Fidel Castro, was once punched by fellow Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa and joked that he wrote to make his friends love him.
"One thousand years of solitude and sadness for the death of the greatest Colombian of all time," Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos tweeted.
He later declared three days of national mourning.
"The world has lost one of its greatest visionary writers," US President Barack Obama said, while French President Francois Hollande paid tribute to "a literary giant" who was "one of the most influential South American intellectuals of our time."
"Gabriel García Márquez was a voice of Latin America who became a voice of our world. His imagination has made us richer, and his passing away makes us poorer," said EU President Jose Manuel Barroso.
The cause of death was not revealed but Garcia Marquez had been hospitalised for pneumonia on March 31 and discharged a week later to recover at his Mexico City home.
His wife Mercedes and two sons were reportedly by his side at home when he died. The family said his body would be cremated, and officials announced a public tribute will be held in Mexico City on Monday.
Born March 6, 1927, in the village of Aracataca on Colombia's Caribbean coast, Garcia Marquez was the son of a telegraph operator.
He was raised by his grandparents and aunts in a tropical culture influenced by the heritage of Spanish settlers, indigenous populations and black slaves. His grandfather was a retired colonel.
The exotic legends of his homeland inspired him to write profusely. His masterpiece, "One Hundred Years of Solitude," was translated into 35 languages and sold over 30 million copies.