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Gabriel García Márquez I © Sebástian Freire/Flickr
Gabriel García Márquez I © Sebástian Freire/Flickr
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An Introduction to Colombian Literature in 9 Authors

Picture of Anny Wooldridge
Updated: 25 May 2017

Colombia is one of the stars of Latin American literature, with a large number of Colombian writers producing world-renowned novels; the country has even produced a Nobel Prize-winning novelist. Over the past few decades Colombia has produced many award winning authors, who have written on a variety of subjects and topics, showcasing Colombia’s present and its past, its problems and its history. Here, we take a look at nine Colombian authors you need to know.

Laura Restrepo

Laura Restrepo was born in Bogota in 1950, and began writing, about love and memories, at the age of nine. Restrepo attended Bogota’s Los Andes University, and throughout her teenage life she lived in California, Denmark and Madrid, until she returned to Bogota and began working for Semana magazine as a political writer. Her first novel was the award-winning Isle of Passion (2005), and one of her most popular is Delirium, which deals with violence in Colombian society.

Evelio Rosero

Evelio Rosero was born in Bogota in 1958 and studied journalism at the University External de Colombia. Rosero went on to become a successful writer and journalist, releasing his first novel, Mateo Solo, in 1984. This novel was the first of a three-part trilogy called Primera Vez (First Time). Rosero is one of Colombia’s most celebrated authors. His work deals with Colombia’s violent political history, fear, and violence. The Armies (2010), for example, focuses on the Colombian conflict. In 2006 Rosero was named Colombia’s Premio Nacional de Literature by the Ministry of Culture. His work has been translated into 12 European languages. As well as novels, he has written poems, plays, and children’s books.

Juan Gabriel Vásquez

Juan Gabriel Vásquez was born in Bogota in 1973 and studied law at the Universidad Rosario. Vásquez lived in Paris, Belgium, and Barcelona before returning to Bogota, where he currently resides.His best-known novel is The Sound of Things Falling (2014). In 2014 he received the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. His work has been influenced by Gabriel García Márquez, urban and rural life in Colombia, and the drug trade.

Germán Castro Caycedo

Germán Castro Caycedo is a Colombian journalist and writer born in 1940 in Zipaquira. He studied at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogota, and started his career working at the newspaper El Tiempo and as a TV show director. His work is based on Colombian reality, cultural identity, social and economical phenomena. His work has been published in Spain, Hungary, France, Japan, China, and Greece. His famous books include La Bruja (The Witch), El Alcaraván, Candelabra, and Con las Mans en Alto (With the Hands Up).

Jorge Isaacs

Jorge Isaacs was born in Cali, Colombia, on April 1 1837 and died on April 17 1895. He was a politician and a solider who wrote one novel, Maria, in 1867. This novel achieved worldwide fame and was the pinnacle of Latin American romanticism. An important piece of work in Spanish and American literature in the 19th century, it showcases the Colombian society of the time.

Germán Espinosa

Germán Espinosa was born in Cartagena in 1938 and died in 2007. Espinosa was an novelist, poet, and author who was inspired by Cartagena and often used it as a backdrop. His novels include fiction about witches, pirates and the Spanish Inquisition. Espinosa is often referred to as ‘Gabo sin nobel,‘ or ‘Gabriel García Márquez without a Nobel Prize.’ He has produced over 40 novels; one of the most famous is La Tejedora de Coronas (The Weaver of Crowns), based on 17th-century Cartagena.  

Gabriel García Márquez

Gabriel García Márquez was one of the most significant authors of the 20th century. He was a novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter, and journalist. He was born in Aracataca, Colombia, on March 6 1927 and he died in Mexico City on April 17 2014. He achieved worldwide fame through his magical realist novels. His most well-known and applauded work is the 1967 One Hundred Years of Solitudewhich has been translated into over 30 languages and sold 30 million copies worldwide. The novel is a timeless classic and helped him to achieve a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. His work has influenced many authors all over the world.

Manuel Zapata Olivella

Manuel Zapata Olivella was a doctor, anthropologist, and writer, born in Santa Cruz de Lorica, Colombia, in 1920. He died in 2004. He lived in Cartagena and studied medicine at the National University of Colombia in Bogota. Manuel worked as a doctor in Mexico City before pursuing his passion for writing. His literature is based predominately on the culture and studies of Afro-Colombians, the cultural inhabitants of the Colombian Caribbean, and he directed the literary magazine National Letters. Olivella has taught in a number of universities in the USA, Canada, Central America, and Africa. His most recognisable novel is Changó (1983), based on the history and stories of Afro-American communities.

Héctor Abad Faciolince

Héctor Abad Faciolince was born in Medellin in 1958 and is a novelist, essayist, journalist, and editor. His bestselling novels are Angosta (2004) and El Olvido que Seremos (2006). He studied philopophy and literature at the University Pontifical Bolivariana, after which he lived in Italy and studied Modern Languages and Literature at the University of Turin. Upon returning to Colombia, he worked as the director of the University of Antioquia Journal between 1993 and 1997. He has worked as a journalist for El Mundo, El Colombiano and El Espectador and as a columnist for Revista Cromos, La Hoja, El Malpensante, Revista Semana, and Revista Cambio. His work has been translated into many different European languages.