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Carlos Fuentes, 1928 - 2012

Carlos Fuentes, who died on May 15th 2012, was an internationally well-known and critically acclaimed Mexican novelist. His novels included The Death of Artemio Cruz, Aura and Christopher Unborn. In 1992, Fuentes became an honarary graduate of the University of Warwick with a Doctorate of Letters. Professor John King from the School of Comparative American Studies reflects on his life and achievements:

carlos_fuentes.jpgCarlos Fuentes was one of Latin America’s greatest writers and public intellectuals. A man of enormous intellectual range and restless energy, he spearheaded what has been called the ‘boom’ of Latin American fiction in the 1960s, when leading writers such as Fuentes himself, Mario Vargas Llosa, Gabriel García Márquez and Julio Cortázar first emerged onto the world stage. Effortlessly cosmopolitan and polyglot, he built bridges between Mexico, Latin America and the wider world: at home, for example, at a lunch with Bill Clinton in the White House in the late nineties, sharing a love of William Faulkner. His own novels, short stories and essays show a great technical dexterity and a constant, urgent, fascination with trying to explore and understand the development of twentieth and twenty first century Mexico.

A man at the centre of contemporary debates over the past fifty years, in culture and international affairs, he would increasingly use the UK as a base to get away from the pressures of international fame and find the space to write. My first meeting with him was in a pub in Cambridge in late 1985, seeking out an interview for a book that I was editing. Pausing only to take an occasional mouthful of steak and kidney pie or a sip of beer, he regaled me for an hour with a dazzling range of literary and political references, all beautifully argued and structured in perfect English. He was generous man. He would come to Warwickshire and to the university on several occasions: to go to plays at the RSC or to talk about his work. The university awarded him an honorary degree in 1992, on the 500th anniversary of the inappropriately named ‘discovery’ of the Americas. He was travelling and writing up to the day of his death. We send our condolences to his widow Silvia Lemus.

John King
University of Warwick

Carlos Fuentes will be greatly missed, and our thoughts are with his family at this time.