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Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes dies at 83

MEXICO CITY--Carlos Fuentes, who died Tuesday aged 83, was one of the Spanish-speaking world's best known writers, famous for his prolific output and his use of experimental language.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon announced the writer's death in a message on his Twitter account. Local media said Fuentes had died in a hospital in the south of the Mexican capital as a result of heart problems.

Arguably Mexico's best known living writer, Fuentes was born in Panama on Nov. 11, 1928, the son of a diplomat. He spent parts of his childhood in Quito, Montevideo and Rio de Janeiro and his travels helped shape his leftist political views that fueled a lifelong activism.

“You have to take some time out to be able to give literature the attention it deserves — for journalism, for speaking, for friendship. I cannot be cloistered like a monk because I would lose contact with human beings, with life,” the versatile Fuentes told AFP in a 2003 interview.

A leading figure in the 1960s Latin American boom in Spanish-language literature, Fuentes befriended both Colombian leftist Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Peruvian conservative Mario Vargas Llosa, and was known for criticizing both the harsh side of capitalism and the tough realities of communism.

Unlike his contemporaries though, Fuentes never won a Nobel Prize in literature, although for years he was mentioned as being on the short list and collected a clutch of other prestigious awards.

His travels helped shape his leftist political views and fueled his passion for political activism.

Like many Latin American intellectuals of his era, he was fascinated by the Cuban revolution for years and by leftist rebel movements; but over time his opinions grew more nuanced.

“Cuba is worthy of condemnation, and so is the United States,” he was quoted as saying.

Fuentes published his first collection of short stories, “Masked Days,” under the guidance of his father Rafael.

At the age of 30 he achieved international renown with his 1958 book “The Most Transparent Region,” a portrayal of Mexico City which was experiencing explosive growth.

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In this October 1995 file photo, Mexican author Carlos Fuentes poses for a picture at an unknown location. Whatever they may have thought of his politics, anyone lucky enough to ...

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