October 20, 2021


Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Watch filmmaker Rodrigo Garcia discuss ‘A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes’

Filmmaker Rodrigo Garcia will join the L.A. Times Book Club tonight to share the stories behind “A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes,” a memoir about his father, Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez, and mother, Mercedes Barcha.

You can watch Garcia in conversation with Times editor Steve Padilla on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook starting at 6 p.m. PT. Sign up on Eventbrite here. Share your questions in advance on Twitter @latimes or send an email to bookclub@latimes.com.

Garcia is a writer and director who has explored the complex internal lives of characters in such films as “Four Good Days,” starring Glenn Close and Mila Kunis as a mother and daughter reckoning with substance abuse, and “Last Days in the Desert,” in which Jesus (played by Ewan McGregor) grapples with doubt and an all-powerful father.

Rodrigo Garcia at home in Santa Monica.

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

His first book, “A Farewell” is neither a tell-all nor a set-the-record-straight type of narrative. Instead, Garcia has written a contemplative account of losing his parents. The slim volume is sprinkled with family photographs and passages from his father, a novelist and journalist whose books include the literary classic, “One Hundred Years of Solitude.”

A man and a woman sit at a table talking over coffee and cigarettes.

Gabriel García Márquez and Mercedes Barcha in the late 1960s, in a photo from “A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes” by Rodrigo Garcia.

(Garcia Marquez Family Archive)

“Writers are kind of obsessed with death,” Garcia says in a recent interview with columnist Carolina A. Miranda. “That’s what takes you to writing, trying to encapsulate experience, trying to tell the beginning, the middle and the end.”

The 2014 death of García Márquez —“Gabo,” to family and fans — generated front-page headlines around the world. Last August, Garcia also lost his mother, who served as his father’s chief of staff, confidante and foil. Barcha’s death likewise drew international notice.

A man holding papers and a woman sit side by side, smiling.

Gabriel García Márquez and Mercedes Barcha return to his hometown, Aracataca, Colombia, in 2007.

(Alejandra Vega / AFP via Getty Images)

Born in Colombia, García Márquez and Barcha spent many years living in Mexico City. In “Farewell,” Garcia recalls their trips to California to visit his family.

“During my parents’ stays in Los Angeles, I frequently took them out to lunch at some of the trendiest restaurants, where they ate surrounded by the local rich and famous, in anonymity,” he writes. “Usually it was only the Latino valet parking attendants who recognized my father, and on a couple of occasions, they sent one of their own to buy books so that he could inscribe them after the meal. Nothing could give him greater pleasure.”

English professor and author Lisa Alvarez compiled this guide to start reading — or rereading – the work of García Márquez, a master of magical realism honored with the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez wears a yellow rose in his lapel

Gabriel Garcia Marquez outside his Mexico City home on his 87th birthday.

(Eduardo Verdugo / AP)

The L.A. Times Book Club has been discussing “ A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes” and García Márquez’s books during July. In August, the book club will read “All In” by tennis champion and Long Beach icon Billie Jean King, who will be in conversation with Times Executive Sports Editor Christian Stone on Aug. 24.

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