Prolific Colombian writer and poet Mutis dies at 90

Tributes are paid to man considered one of the best storytellers of his generation

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 September, 2013, 3:33am


Prolific Colombian writer and poet Alvaro Mutis Jaramillo has died in Mexico's capital. He was 90.

Mexican media quoted his wife, Carmen Miracle, as saying that he had died on Sunday at a cardiac hospital from a cardio-respiratory problem.

Mutis enjoyed wide popularity outside Colombia and was considered by critics as one of the most outstanding poets and storytellers of his generation, after his good friend, Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Despite the difficulties he faced, including time in a Mexican prison, Mutis produced an extensive collection of novels and poetry that earned major international honours.

Mexico's National Commission for Culture and the Arts lamented the death of the literary giant via its Twitter account.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos sent his condolences after the death was confirmed. "The millions of friends and admirers of Alvaro Mutis profoundly lament his death," Santos wrote. "All of Colombia honours him."

Born on August 25, 1923, in Bogota, Mutis was the son of Colombian diplomat Santiago Mutis and Carolina Jaramillo. He spent part of his early years in Brussels, Belgium, where his father served as Colombia's ambassador.

Before winning fame as a writer, Mutis travelled to Mexico in 1956 with letters of recommendation from prominent Spanish filmmaker Luis Bunuel and Mexican television producer Luis de Llano Palmer and never left.

He spent 15 months in Lecumberri prison in Mexico City, accused of embezzlement by the US multinational company Standard Oil, where he was head of public relations. He wrote Diary of Lecumberri, published in 1959, about his experience in the infamous lockup, which he called "a lesson I will never forget in the most intense and deep layers of pain and failure".

Mutis' work, according to critics, was distinguished by a rich and interesting mix of lyrical and narrative. His most famous was The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll, a collection of seven novellas about a wayward and quixotic sailor, considered one of the most memorable characters in fiction of recent decades. Many say the writer mirrored Maqroll.

His novels include The Manor of Araucaima and The True Story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. His poetry includes The Balance, The Elements of Disaster and Pamiela.

Associated Press