Bogota, Colombia In his most extensive public comments since going into self-imposed isolation a year ago, Nobel literature laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez says being diagnosed with lymphatic cancer was an "enormous stroke of luck" that pushed him to write his memoirs.
In an interview published in Colombia's leading El Tiempo newspaper, the 73-year-old Colombian author of international best sellers "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and "Love in the Time of Cholera" says he is finishing the first installment of his three-volume memoirs, which will cover topics ranging from his parents to his relationships with world leaders.
"More than a year ago I was put under treatment for three months for a lymphoma, and today I am surprised at the enormous stroke of luck this stumbling block has been in my life,' Garcia Marquez told El Tiempo from his home in Mexico City.
Garcia Marquez was hospitalized for exhaustion in Bogota in June 1999, and was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer later that summer.
After disappearing from public life last year, Garcia Marquez appeared in Mexico this month at the inauguration of President Vicente Fox. Speculation had been rampant that the author was dying, fueled in part by a poem that circulated on the Internet this year and purported to be a farewell message from Garcia Marquez.
The author says he was just busy at work.
"For fear of not having time to finish the three volumes of my memoirs and two books of short stories, I reduced to a minimum relations with my friends, disconnected the telephone, canceled my trips ... and locked myself up to write every day without interruption from eight in the morning until two in the afternoon," he told El Tiempo.
After beginning his career as a journalist, Garcia Marquez turned to fiction. He won the Nobel Prize in 1982 as the master of "magical realism." His style reflects the violent, contradictory, and often irrational realities of his strife-ridden Colombian homeland.
The first tome of his three-volume memoirs tells the story of the relationship between his mother and father and ends with the publication of his first novel, Leaf Storm, in 1955, Garcia Marquez said.
The second volume will tell of his life as a writer until the publication of his masterpiece, "One Hundred Years of Solitude," in 1967. The final volume will tell the story of his friendships with world leaders.
Among them is Cuban President Fidel Castro, with whom Garcia Marquez has maintained a close and controversial friendship for years. Another friend is President Clinton, for whom Garcia Marquez wrote an admiring magazine profile during the Monica Lewinsky affair.
Garcia Marquez said the Internet poem heralding his death was nothing but a hoax and a poorly written one at that.
"The only thing that worries me is that I'll die with the shame that people believe I wrote something so tasteless," he said. "I read it not long ago and what surprises me most is that my readers could believe that it was written by me."