Remembering El Maestro
Issue Three’s guest editor, Ingrid Bejerman, remembers her time spent working with Gabriel García Márquez, who died recently. Read the whole piece here.
I know this may sound absurd, but it’s nothing new to those of us who knew him: Gabriel García Márquez had the power to read minds. Never in my life have I felt so vulnerable and transparent as in the moments I was fortunate enough to spend in his company. I still haven’t grasped the full magnitude of his absence since his death one month ago, and so I appeal to a very basic Jewish principle: remembering a loved one as a way of keeping them alive.
My first words with El Maestro, as he is known across Latin America, were by telephone: a surprise job interview set up by Jaime Abello Banfi, who directs the Foundation for a New Ibero-American Journalism (FNPI), founded and chaired by Gabo to, as he put it, “take a break from academic training, and return to a primary system of practical workshops in small groups.”
Jaime had met me during one of these workshops, and wanted me to be his program coordinator at the Foundation’s headquarters in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. He was very intrigued by my typically diasporic Jewish roots: Brazilian by way of Argentina (half Sephardic by way of Turkey, half Ashkenazi by way of Ukraine), and thought that my background would extend the reach of the Foundation and give it a fuller Latin American dimension.
I was a 23-year-old girl who had just been hired by the leading São Paulo daily O Estado, where I had just landed a job that felt very innovative and exciting: writing for NetEstado, which in those days was the ‘online supplement’ of the newspaper. We were writing articles using non-linear narratives that were much more like the hopscotch of Cortázar than the linear grey prose that had come to characterize most newspapers. For many journalists at the end of the twentieth century, this web news thing was not journalism; it was a fad. But not for Gabo