Gabriel García Márquez Wanted to Destroy His Last Novel. It’s About to Be Published.

Toward the end of his life, when his memory was in pieces, Gabriel García Márquez struggled to finish a novel about the secret sex life of a married middle-age woman. He attempted at least five versions and tinkered with the text for years, slashing sentences, scribbling in the margins, changing adjectives, dictating notes to his assistant. Eventually, he gave up, and issued a final, devastating judgment.

“He told me directly that the novel had to be destroyed,” said Gonzalo García Barcha, the author’s younger son.

When García Márquez died in 2014, multiple drafts, notes and chapter fragments of the novel were stashed away in his archives at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. The story remained there, spread over 769 pages, largely unread and forgotten — until García Márquez’s sons decided to defy their father’s wishes.

Now, a decade after his death, his last novel, titled “Until August,” will be published this month, with a global release in nearly 30 countries. The narrative centers on a woman named Ana Magdalena Bach, who travels to a Caribbean island every August to visit her mother’s grave. On these somber pilgrimages, briefly liberated from her husband and family, she finds a new lover each time.

The novel adds an unexpected coda to the life and work of García Márquez, a literary giant and Nobel laureate, and will likely stir questions about how literary estates and publishers should navigate posthumous releases that contradict a writer’s directives.

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