When I heard that the Mexican literary legend Carlos Fuentes died Tuesday at 83, I remembered a long, easygoing interview I did with him years ago. We talked about many things — including what epitaph he wanted carved on his tombstone.
It was the autumn of 1995 and I was a reporter at The Washington Post, assigned to write a profile of the elegant, eloquent Fuentes. I draw on that story now, for twice-told tales worth telling.
Peter Carey's dazzling new novel, The Chemistry of Tears, encompasses heartbreak, the comfort of absorbing work, the transformative power of beauty and the soul of an old machine. If you've never read the Australian-born, two-time Booker Prize–winning author of Oscar and Lucinda and True History of the Kelly Gang — or, most recently, Parrot and Olivier in America — his 12th novel is a terrific introduction to his work.
Carlos Fuentes was the son of a Mexican diplomat and spent years living abroad, including in the United States. But Mexico — the country, its people and politics — was central to his writing.
Fuentes, one of the most influential Latin American writers, died Tuesday at a hospital in Mexico City at the age of 83. He was instrumental in bringing Latin American literature to an international audience, and he used his fiction to address what he saw as real-world injustices.
One of Mexico's greatest writers has died: Carlos Fuentes. He was 83. Fuentes was a central figure in the Latin American literary boom of the 1960s and '70s. And he was publishing fiction and essays until the end, including an essay published today in the Mexican newspaper Reforma. Our own book critic Alan Cheuse knew Fuentes and reviewed many of his novels. Hi, Alan.
ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: Hi, Robert.
SIEGEL: And first, give us a sense of the broad sweep of Carlos Fuentes' career, and what made his work so important?
Time now for a home viewing recommendation from our film critic Bob Mondello. This time Bob urges taking the plunge from the seven-and-a-half-th floor into the Criterion Collection's Blu-ray release of Being John Malkovich.