Gabriel Garcia Marquez has dementia, can no longer write, says brother

Gabriel García Márquez has been suffering from dementia for some time, his younger brother has confirmed.

Sad news for magical realism fans: Gabriel Garcia Marquez has dementia and can no longer write.

The Nobel Prize-winning author's brother confirmed the rumors at a lecture to students in Cartagena, in their native Colombia, the BBC reported.

"He is doing well physically, but he has been suffering from dementia for a long time," Jaime Garcia Marquez is quoted as saying. "He still has the humor, joy and enthusiasm that he has always had."

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 85, apparently calls his brother frequently for help with basic questions. 

"He has problems with his memory," Jaime said. "Sometimes I cry because I feel like I'm losing him."

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Jaime Garcia Marquez said his brother's illness had made it impossible for him to write. The author's autobiography, of which only the first of a projected three volumes has been written, would have to go unfinished, Jaime said, according to The Telegraph – "but I hope I'm wrong."

There has been speculation about the author's health for some time. According to the Colombia Reports news site, local media reported that he had trouble recognizing the voices of close friends on the phone, while it was known that his mother and another brother had suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

The family disposition to dementia was aggravated in Gabriel's case by the chemotheraphy he underwent for lymphatic cancer in 1999, his brother said.

The author, best known for One Hundred Years of Solitude, was last reported to be working on a new novel in 2010. That book, We'll Meet in August, has not yet appeared, despite his editor's announcement that it was nearly finished.