While García Márquez is often considered the most famous of writers of magic realism, and while much of his writing has elements which are strongly associated with magic realism, García Márquez's writing is simply too diverse to be bound within categories.
His first major work was The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor (Relato de un náufrago), which he wrote as a newspaper series in 1955. The book told the inglorious true story of a shipwreck that had been glorified by the government. This resulted in the beginning of his foreign correspondence, as it was unsafe for him to remain in Colombia. It was later published in 1970 and taken by many to have been a novel.
Several of his works have been classified as both fiction and non-fiction, notably Chronicle of a Death Foretold (Chrónica de una muerte anuncida) (1981), which tells the tale of revenge killing in his hometown of Aracataca, and Love in the Time of Cholera (El amor en los tiempos del cólera) (1985), which tells the story of his grandparents' courtship. In addition, many of his works, including those two, take place in the "García Márquez universe", with characters, events, and locations appearing from book to book.
His most famous novel One Hundred Years of Solitude (Cien años de soledad) (1967) has sold more than ten million copies. It depicts the life of an isolated South American village and the strange occurrences which are portrayed as commonplace, certainly has elements of the magically real, however, it is much more than that, being also a philosophical reflection on the nature of time and isolation, and is also lacking the folkloric content which is a prerequisite of magic realism. Not everything strange and unexplained is folkloric; some of it is simply life.
Gabriel García Márquez was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1982.
In 2002, García Márquez published the memoir Vivir para contarla, the first volume of a projected three-volume autobiography. The book has been a huge bestseller in the Spanish-speaking world and is currently being translated into English; this edition will be published in November, 2003.