A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes
Biography / Memoirs , 2021
Harper Via / Literatura Random House
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 by his side for more than fifty years, his wife, Mercedes Barcha, was not hopeful; her husband, affectionately known as “Gabo,” was then nearly eighty-seven 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 heart-breaking 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 he 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.
"Garcia’slimpid prose gazes calmly at death, registering pain but not being overcome by it. […] A moving eulogy that will captivate fans of the literary lion.” Publishers Weekly
“A warm homage filled with both fond and painful memories.” Kirkus Review
“A literary gem, a crucial read if you want a compassionate exploration of who Gabo was and what he was like.” El Cultural (Spain)
“Rodrigo has gifted his father’s millions of readers a close-up view of one of the 20th century’s great writers.” Literary Hub, Lit Hub’s Most Anticipated Books of 2021
“García Márquez’s story now has an end. It is tender and poignant and fitting.” Los Angeles Times, July, 7, 2021
“Rodrigo García has written an intimate and surprisingly relatable chronicle of grief and acceptance, albeit one that also offers a glimpse into one of the most famous literary figures of all time. […] There’s a universality to these scenes of the small rites of death. […] A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes’ takes readers into the private grieving for a public man.” The Washington Post
“Mr. Garcia’s voice remains soft and modest, his eye steady, his style blessedly free of fancy. He observes more than he reflects.” The Wall Street Journal
"Surprising, absorbing, intimate, moving... [Garcia's] account of the ordinariness and the quiet of their final days... will never leave you. What a stunning way to report on love.” Goo, September Book Club Pick
"Garcia writes with the frank honesty of a friend who knows he can only untrouble himself by speaking the plainest truths without embellishment or gilded profundity. A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes is a slim volume, but there is nothing slight about this book, just as any scant words exchanged between two friends in a moment of raw grief have the potential to reverberate for years. This book is one of those conversations we never forget, but learn from and hold close for comfort." Keetje Kuipers, Book Critics