Chilean author Luis Sepulveda dies of coronavirus in Spain

Portrait of Luis Sepulveda. (Photo: Sophie Bassouls/Sygma via Getty Images)
Portrait of Luis Sepulveda. (Photo: Sophie Bassouls/Sygma via Getty Images)

Best-selling Chilean writer Luis Sepulveda has died at a hospital in northern Spain some six weeks after testing positive for coronavirus, his publishing house said on Thursday. He was 70.

"The writer Luis Sepulveda has died in Oviedo," said a statement by Barcelona-based Tusquets, adding it "deeply regretted his loss".

Best known for The Old Man Who Read Love Stories, Sepulveda was exiled from Chile in 1977 by the Pinochet dictatorship and travelled extensively before settling in Europe in the 1980s.

He first began showing symptoms of COVID-19 on February 25 after returning from a festival in northern Portugal and was taken to hospital in Oviedo in the northern Asturias region where he had lived for more than 20 years.

By March 10, local newspapers reported he was in critical condition, but since then, no further details have been made public at the family's request.

"Health workers gave everything to save his life but he never got over the illness. My condolences to his wife and family," tweeted Adrian Barbon, president of the Asturias region.

Born on October 1949 in Ovalle, north of the Chilean capital Santiago, Sepulveda became a political activist when he was young, first with Chile's Communist Youth, and then with the Socialists.

In 1973, he was arrested by the Pinochet regime and jailed for treason for two-and-a-half years, but was freed after Amnesty International intervened, then spending time on the run before his exile in 1977.

He wrote some 20 novels, chronicles, stories and children's books which are known for their simple humour and depictions of life in Latin America and been translated into multiple languages.

Compiled by Lindokuhle Nkosi.

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