Though living far away from Latin America, for Malayalis, Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a favourite a novelst as any great writer ever written in their own language.
Almost every work of Marquez, who died in Mexico City today, has been translated into Malayalam and sold like hot cakes since late 1970s and he continues to be a household name across Kerala.
The story goes that once a primary school teacher asked his students to name a few writers, obviously intending Malayalam writers. A couple of children mentioned Marquez.
According to Ravi Deecee, a leading publisher in Kerala, there could hardly be any other foreign writer who had been "celebrated by Malayalis".
"Marquez has been accepted and enjoyed by Keralites as a Malayali writer and not as a foreigner. We first published Marquez in Malayalam in early 1980s and he continues to be a top-seller," Ravi told PTI.
The publisher has no doubt that the Latin American literary giant would figure in the list of top 25 writers preferred by Malayali readers of any generation.
Ravi's D C Books has published Malayalam translation of Marquez's three novels - One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the time of Cholera and Strange Pilgrims.
According to noted writer Akbar Kakkattil, it would be difficult sum up in a few words what made Marquez's works so attractive to Malayalis.
"I can only say that Malayali readers took to Marquez as a felicitous writer and also on account of the depth of his works and their peculiar narration. Though Malayalam has a long tradition of translating literary works from all languages, not other writer seems to have achieved the reach of Marquez," Akbar, also vice president of Kerala Sahitya Akademi, said.
During film festivals in the state, movies based on Marquez novels and tales used to run full house as the very name of the author has power to lure Malayalis, according to B Sajeevan, a film buff.