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Mexicans pay tribute to novelist Carlos Fuentes

18 may 2012, 16:15
The wake of Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes at the Fine Art Palace. ©AFP
The wake of Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes at the Fine Art Palace. ©AFP
Hundreds of Mexicans bade farewell to late novelist Carlos Fuentes on Wednesday, carrying books and flowers as they filed past the casket of one of the Spanish-speaking world's best-known writers, AFP reports.

During a public ceremony at the grand Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City, President Felipe Calderon hailed Fuentes as "one of the greatest writers of all time."

"He helped give global prominence to Latin-American literature," the president said.

Standing in front of the casket next to Calderon were the writer's widow Silvia Lemus and Cecilia, his only surviving child, born from his first marriage to actress Rita Macedo.

A crowd of people queued outside for a chance to file past the casket inside the palace.

"I still can't believe it -- he was so close to me with his books my whole life," said a teary-eyed Raul Acosta, a 40-year-old psychologist, after viewing the casket.

Brenda Negrete, 28, said she was now a "political orphan."

"We will miss his political opinions, especially for these elections," she said, referring to the July 1 presidential and legislative ballots.

Fuentes, the son of a diplomat who served as Mexico's ambassador to Paris in 1975-1977, died in the Mexican capital Tuesday at age 83 after suffering a massive hemorrhage in his digestive tract.

The novelist's remains will be cremated and his ashes buried at the Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris, where two of his children -- Carlos and Natasha -- are buried, local media reported.

"I feel at home in Paris -- very happy and surrounded by beauty," Fuentes said in a recent interview.

The prolific writer authored more than 50 works -- including novels, short stories, essays and plays.

He was a leading figure in the 1960s Latin American literature boom, befriending both Colombian leftist Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Peruvian conservative Mario Vargas Llosa.

Fuentes was also known for his use of experimental language.

Visibly shaken, Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard hailed his late friend, "who will always remain in the Mexican soul."

"Fuentes was a great seducer who used only one weapon: the word," said Federico Reyes Heroles, a writer who read a tribute message at the family's request.

"Carlos embodied the idea of bringing Mexico into the world and the world to Mexico."

Fuentes published his first collection of short stories, "Masked Days," under the guidance of his father Rafael.

In 1958, when he was 30, he achieved international fame with "The Most Transparent Region," a portrayal of Mexico City's explosive growth.

The novel "The Death of Artemio Cruz" (1967) won Fuentes both critical and public acclaim and became his best known work.

He scored a new literary success with "Terra Nostra," a novel on the complex cultural issues of the Iberian and Latin American worlds for which he was awarded the prestigious Romulo Gallegos prize in 1977.

Other prizes followed -- including the Cervantes (1987), the Ruben Dario (1988) and the Prince of Asturias (1994).

His 1985 novel "Old Gringo," about the disappearance of US writer Ambrose Bierce during the Mexican Revolution, was a best-seller in the United States and became a 1989 Hollywood movie starring Gregory Peck and Jane Fonda.

"The Eagle's Chair" (2003) imagined the outlines of Mexico's future, and "Against Bush" (2004) was a collection of his articles skewering US president George W. Bush.

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