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Nobel laureate added a tropical air to Sweden

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It was easy to find Gabriel Garcia Marquez in Stockholm on Nobel Prize weekend; he was always in the center of a knot of Latin American journalists and fans, from the Grand Hotel to the Operaterassen restaurant to the Concert Hall where the prizes were given out, and back. They gave warmth, color, and the noise of excited voices speaking Spanish to an otherwise frozen and stony-looking city, where manners are more circumspect and all you hear on the streets are quiet ''Ja, ja's'' of thoughtful agreement. Even though it's pitch black at 3 p.m. in Stockholm in December, and the rest of the day is grayish, Garcia Marquez walked around in a constant high noon of flash bulbs and TV camera lights.

In a city known for its formality, here were people in thick sheepskin coats babbling the way teen-agers waiting for the Beatles used to. Whenever they could, they pressed close to the short, bristling-mustached Colombian author, some to ask questions (''Will you return to Colombia?'' ''No, I'll stay in Mexico and write''), others to kiss him on the cheeks and say ''felicitaciones, '' with glowing eyes. When he was gone, they questioned each other fast: ''He's gone?'' ''Where did he go?'' ''Do you know what his chauffeur looks like?''

Julietta, a novelist writing for a newspaper in Buenos Aires, marches up and down in the lobby of the Grand Hotel. Her brown eyes flash as she worries aloud Garcia Marquez is upstairs changing for the Nobel Prize ceremony; as he passed her earlier she had given him a letter of introduction. Tiny, elegantly dressed, she alternately harasses her photographer and apologizes, holding up a neat, red-nailed hand: ''I'm so distracted. Please pardon me.''

Other photographers and TV cameramen come in and stand around, and the lobby is abuzz with rapid Spanish chatter. This is an important time for the Latin American population here, she says; most of them are in exile, and Garcia Marquez's winning the prize not only makes them proud, it seems politically significant to them.


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