Gregory Rabassa, prominent literary translator, passed away in Branford, following a brief illness. He was 94. Rabassa is known for his translations of several well-known Latin American writers, including Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, Julio Cortazar, Octavio Paz, Clarice Lispector and Jorje Amado. A longtime professor at Queens College, Rabassa was an essential gateway to the 1960s Latin American boom, when authors Garcia Marquez, Cortazar and Mario Vargas Llosa became widely known.
He broke into mainstream publishing in the 1960s when an editor at Pantheon Books asked him to translate Cortazar’s Hopscotch, a novel for which Rabassa won a National Book Award in 1967. He also worked on the novel which defined the boom, Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, a monument of 20th century literature. Rabassa’s other translations included Garcia Marquez’s The Autumn of the Patriarch, Vargas Llosa’s Conversation in the Cathedral and Jorge Amado’s Captains of the Sand. In 2001, Rabassa received a lifetime achievement award from the PEN American Centre for contributions to Hispanic literature. He was presented a National Medal of Arts in 2006 for translations which continue to enhance our cultural understanding and enrich our lives.
He was born in Yonkers, New York in 1922 and served as a cryptographer during World War II.