Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Literature: Unseen Godfather of the "Latin Lit" boom, dies

Gregory Rabassa, a translator of worldwide influence and esteem who helped introduce Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Julio Cortazar and other Latin American authors to millions of English-language readers, has died.
A longtime professor at Queens College, Rabassa died Monday at a hospice in Branford, Conn. He was 94 and died after a brief illness, according to his daughter, Kate Rabassa Wallen.
Rabassa was an essential gateway to the 1960s Latin American "boom," when such authors as Garcia Marquez, Cortazar and Mario Vargas Llosa became widely known internationally. He worked on the novel that helped start the boom, Cortazar's "Hopscotch," for which Rabassa won a National Book Award for translation. He also worked on the novel which defined the boom, Garcia Marquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude," a monument of 20th century literature.
Garcia Marquez often praised Rabassa, saying he regarded the translation of "Solitude" as a work of art in its own right.
"He's the godfather of us all," Edith Grossman, the acclaimed translator of "Don Quixote" and several Garcia Marquez books, told the Associated Press on Tuesday. "He's the one who introduced Latin-American literature in a serious way to the English-speaking world."
Rabassa's other translations included Garcia Marquez's "The Autumn of the Patriarch," Vargas Llosa's "Conversation in the Cathedral" and Jorge Amado's "Captains of the Sand." In 2001, Rabassa received a lifetime achievement award from the PEN American Center for contributions to Latino literature. He was presented a National Medal of Arts in 2006 for translations which "continue to enhance our cultural understanding and enrich our lives."
Survivors include his second wife, Clementine; daughters Kate Rabassa Wallen and Clara Rabassa; and granddaughters Jennifer and Sarah Wallen.

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