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FILE - Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes greets the audience during a conference of Peru's Nobel Literature Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa in Mexico City, Thursday, March 3, 2011.In this Thursday, March 3, 2011.file photo, Mexican author Carlos Fuentes greets the audience during a conference of Peru's Nobel Literature Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa in Mexico City. Fuentes, Mexico's most celebrated novelist and among Latin America's most prominent authors, died on May 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)
Mexican novelist, essayist Carlos Fuentes dies

First Published May 15 2012 04:53 pm • Last Updated May 15 2012 10:54 pm

MEXICO CITY • Author Carlos Fuentes, who played a dominant role in Latin America’s novel-writing boom by delving into the failed ideals of the Mexican revolution, died Tuesday in a Mexico City hospital. He was 83.

Fuentes died at the Angeles del Pedregal hospital where he was taken after his personal doctor, Arturo Ballesteros, found him in shock in his Mexico City home. Ballesteros told reporters outside the hospital that the writer had a sudden internal hemorrhage that caused him to lose consciousness.

At a glance

Some reaction to the death of Mexican author Carlos Fuentes:

“Carlos Fuentes has died. One of a kind. An era, a genre. A writer for all seasons. To Silvia, all my affection.” — Mexican writer Hector Aguilar Camin

“Thanks for his words and his thoughts. Goodbye Master!” — Consuelo Salazar, director of Mexico’s National Council for Culture for the Arts

“Author of lasting novels and short stories, a vigorous, enriching presence. I think the center of his literary creativity was language. The renovation of language.” — Enrique Krauze, Mexican historian considered Fuentes’ harshest critic

Fuentes was “one of the most brilliant writers of the 20th century.” — Krauze

“I deeply lament the death of our beloved and admired Carlos Fuentes, a universal Mexican writer.” — President Felipe Calderon

“What sadness. Carlos Fuentes has left forever. I send all my affection to Silvia, his true and only love. Mexico is in mourning.” — Mexican writer Guadalupe Loaeza

“I’m deeply sorry for Carlos Fuentes’ death.” — Mexican writer Elena Poniatowska

“Mexico has suffered a great loss.” — Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard

“I’m terribly sorry for the death of Carlos Fuentes, Mexico’s greatest novelist, a generous friend. A big hug to Silvia and Cecilia.” — Mexican writer Jorge Volpi

“I send my condolences to the family of the great writer Carlos Fuentes. Rest in peace Maestro.” — Salsa musician and actor Ruben Blades.

“Carlos Fuentes was a brilliant intellectual but also a very generous and fun man. We will miss him.” — Peruvian writer Santiago Roncagliolo.

“A big hug to the family of Carlos Fuentes. A very sad day.” — Mexican actor Diego Luna.

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The loss was immediately mourned worldwide via Twitter and across Mexican airwaves by everyone from fellow Mexican authors Elena Poniatowska and Jorge Volpi to reggaeton artist Rene Perez of the group Calle 13.

"I deeply lament the death of our beloved and admired Carlos Fuentes, a universal Mexican writer," said President Felipe Calderon on his Twitter account.

The prolific Fuentes wrote his first novel, "Where the Air is Clear," at age 29, laying the foundation for a boom in Spanish contemporary literature during the 1960s and 1970s. He published an essay on the change of power in France in the newspaper Reforma on Tuesday, the same day he died.

His generation of writers, including Colombia’s Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Peru’s Mario Vargas Llosa, drew global readership and attention to Latin American culture during a period when strongmen ruled much of the region.

"The Death of Artemio Cruz," a novel about a post-revolutionary Mexico, brought Fuentes international acclaim.

He was asked in an unpublished 2006 interview why he didn’t mention in the book the target of his criticism, the long-ruling, autocratic Institutional Revolutionary Party, known by its Spanish initials PRI. The PRI is now poised to take back the presidency in July 1 elections.

"There was no need to mention the PRI," Fuentes answered. "It is present by its absence."

The strapping, mustachioed author dressed smartly, ate well and moved easily between the capitals of Europe and Mexico City with his equally elegant wife, journalist Silvia Lemus.


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His other classics included "Aura," "Terra Nostra" and "The Good Conscience." Many American readers know him for "The Old Gringo," a novel about San Francisco journalist Ambrose Bierce, who disappeared at the height of the 1910-1920 Mexican Revolution. That book was later made into a 1989 film starring Gregory Peck and Jane Fonda.

Mexican historian Enrique Krauze was considered Fuentes’ harshest critic, saying the writer was out of touch with Mexico. But Krauze acknowledged his talents on Tuesday, calling Fuentes an "author of lasting novels and short stories, a vigorous, enriching presence."

"That’s all I should say," he told The Associated Press.

Mexican writer Hector Aguilar Camin said on his Twitter account: "One of a kind. An era, his own genre. A writer for all seasons. To Silvia, all my affection."

Fuentes himself ventured into Twitter only one day, March 19, 2011.

His last message there read: "There must be something beyond slaughter and barbarism to support the existence of mankind and we must all help search for it."

Fuentes was often mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel prize but never won one. True to his name, which means "fountains" in Spanish, he was a prolific writer, producing plays and short stories and co-founding a literary magazine. He was also a columnist, political analyst, essayist and critic.

And he was outspoken. Once considered a Communist and sympathizer of Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Fuentes was denied entry into the U.S. under the McCarren-Walter Act. Having spent some of his childhood in the U.S. as the son of a Mexican diplomat, he said it grated on him that his left-of-center politics meant he often was portrayed as anti-American. He was critical of American governments and of a rich country that should attend to its poor, but not of Americans and American culture.

"To call me anti-American is a stupendous lie, a calumny. I grew up in this country. When I was a little boy I shook the hand of Franklin Roosevelt and I haven’t washed it since," he said with characteristic good humor in an unpublished 2006 interview in Los Angeles.

More recently, as a moderate leftist, Fuentes strongly opposed U.S. policies against immigration and the war on terrorism. He warned about Mexico’s religious right but also blasted Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez as a "Tropical Mussolini."

He was very critical of Mexican drug violence that has killed more than 47,500 people since 2006, something he blamed on a failed policy by Calderon to attack organized crime. His 2008 book, "Destiny and Desire: A Novel," was narrated by a severed head.

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