Sergio Pitol, the Mexican author and translator "recognized for breaking barriers between genres" and "considered one of the great voices in contemporary Spanish literature," died April 12, the New York Times reported. He was 85. When Pitol received the Cervantes Prize in 2005, King Juan Carlos I of Spain said his works had "seduced us with the truth."
Pitol's short stories, essays and crime novels "merged fiction with memoir in an imaginative swirl of contemplation and reflection," the Times wrote. "He spoke seven languages, and his many translations brought the works of Jane Austen, Henry James and Joseph Conrad, as well as the Polish Nobel laureate Witold Gombrowicz, to Spanish-speaking readers."
Among his most acclaimed works is Trilogy of Memory--The Art of Flight (1996), The Journey (2000), and The Magician of Vienna (2005)--a "collection of essays that amount to a fictionalized autobiography, a product of both his broad travels and his dreams," the Times noted, adding that "Pitol reached a new readership when the trilogy was published in English in 2015."
"He didn't write the way that was expected from a Latin American writer, like García Márquez," author Margo Glantz said. "His work broke all those molds, and it is one of the reasons his literature was less read and translated to other languages."
Pitol became a mentor to a younger generation of Mexican writers, including Juan Villoro, who wrote in El País last week: "Sergio Pitol made a religion out of friendship. He reached out to others with an unusual gregariousness and fiercely believed in others."