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NEW YORK – Gabriel García Márquez, the Colombian novelist whose “One Hundred Years of Solitude” established him as a giant of 20th century literature, died Thursday at his home in Mexico City. He was 87.

His death was confirmed by Cristóbal Pera, his former editor at Random House.

García Márquez, who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, wrote fiction rooted in a mythical Latin American landscape of his own creation, but his appeal was universal. He was among a select roster of canonical writers – Dickens, Tolstoy and Hemingway among them – who were embraced both by critics and by a mass audience.

“With the passing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the world has lost one of its greatest visionary writers - and one of my favorites from the time I was young ... I offer my thoughts to his family and friends, whom I hope take solace in the fact that Gabo’s work will live on for generations to come,” President Obama said.

García Márquez was considered the supreme exponent, if not the creator, of the literary genre known as magic realism, in which the miraculous and the real converge. In his novels and stories, storms rage for years, flowers drift from the skies, tyrants survive for centuries, priests levitate and corpses fail to decompose. And, more plausibly, lovers rekindle their passion after a half-century apart.

Magic realism, he said, sprang from Latin America’s history of vicious dictators and romantic revolutionaries, of long years of hunger, illness and violence. In accepting his Nobel, García Márquez said: “Poets and beggars, musicians and prophets, warriors and scoundrels, all creatures of that unbridled reality, we have had to ask but little of imagination. For our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable.”

Like many Latin American intellectuals and artists, García Márquez felt impelled to speak out on the political issues of his day. He viewed the world from a left-wing perspective, bitterly opposing Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the right-wing Chilean dictator, and unswervingly supporting Fidel Castro in Cuba.

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” would sell more than 20 million copies. Chilean poet Pablo Neruda called it “the greatest revelation in the Spanish language since ‘Don Quixote.’ ” The novelist William Kennedy hailed it as “the first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race.”

García Márquez was rattled by the praise. He grew to hate “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” he said in interviews, because he feared his subsequent work would not measure up to it in readers’ eyes. He need not have worried. Almost all his 15 other novels and short-story collections were lionized by critics and devoured by readers.

Gabriel García Márquez was born in Aracataca, a small town near Colombia’s Caribbean coast, on March 6, 1927. His father, a postal clerk and telegraph operator, could barely support his wife and 12 children; Gabriel, the oldest, spent his early childhood living in the large, ramshackle house of his maternal grandparents. It influenced his writing; it seemed inhabited, he said, by the ghosts his grandmother conjured in the stories she told.

– New York Times