One of the most admired writers in the Spanish-speaking world, he wrote plays, short stories, political nonfiction and more than a dozen novels.
Carlos Fuentes, Mexico’s elegant public intellectual and grand man of letters, whose panoramic novels captured the complicated essence of his country’s history for readers around the world, died Tuesday in Mexico City. He was 83.
Mr. Fuentes died at the Angeles del Pedregal Hospital. His doctor, Arturo Ballesteros, told reporters that the writer had a sudden internal hemorrhage that caused him to lose consciousness.
Mr. Fuentes was one the most admired writers in the Spanish-speaking world, a catalyst, along with Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa and Julio Cortázar, of the explosion of Latin American literature in the 1960s and ’70s. He wrote plays, short stories, political nonfiction and more than a dozen novels, many of them chronicles of tangled love, that were acclaimed throughout Latin America.
Mr. Fuentes received wide recognition in the United States in 1985 with his novel “The Old Gringo,” a convoluted tale of the American writer Ambrose Bierce, who disappeared during the Mexican Revolution. The first book by a Mexican novelist to become a best-seller north of the border, it was made into a film starring Gregory Peck and Jane Fonda, released in 1989.
Most Read Nation & World Stories
- A nurse and her entire family contracted COVID-19 under one roof. It started with a 'selfless' car ride.
- Sports on TV & radio: Local listings for Seattle games and events
- Pentagon blocks visits to military spy agencies by Biden transition team
- California imposing its strongest coronavirus limits since the spring
- As thousands of athletes get coronavirus tests, nurses wonder: What about us?
In the tradition of Latin American writers, Mr. Fuentes was an outspoken public intellectual, writing magazine, newspaper and journal articles that criticized the Mexican government during the long period of sometimes repressive single-party rule that ended in 2000 with the election of an opposition candidate, Vicente Fox.
Mr. Fuentes initially supported Fidel Castro’s revolution in Cuba, but turned against it as Castro became increasingly authoritarian. He openly sympathized with Indian rebels in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, and publicly skewered the administration of George W. Bush.
Mr. Fuentes was appointed Mexico’s ambassador to France in 1975, but he resigned two years later to protest the appointment of Gustavo Díaz Ordaz as ambassador to Spain. Díaz Ordaz had been president of Mexico in 1968 when Mexican troops opened fire on student protesters in Mexico City.
Carlos Fuentes was born in Panama, the son of a diplomat. He spent his early childhood in several South American countries and in 1936, the family was transferred to Washington, D.C., where Mr. Fuentes learned to speak English fluently.
In 1940 the family was transferred to Santiago, Chile, where he began writing. He was 16 when his family finally moved back to Mexico.
After completing his law degree, Mr. Fuentes entered Mexico’s diplomatic service. His first novel, “Where the Air Is Clear,” was published in 1958 when he turned 30. It was a literary sensation, mixing biting social commentary with interior monologues and portrayals of the subconscious. He left government service to devote his energies to writing.
Mr. Fuentes’ reputation for supporting leftist causes led to his being denied visas to enter the U.S. in the early 1960s until Congress lifted the restrictions.
Mr. Fuentes is survived by his wife, Silvia Lemus, and daughter, Cecilia.