Colombian Nobel Prize-winning novelist Gabriel García Márquez suffers from senile dementia but still maintains his good sense of humor, joy and enthusiasm, his brother said here Friday.

In remarks to participants in a cultural expedition at Cartagena's Inquisition Museum, Jaime García Márquez said that "from a physical standpoint he's doing well, although he now has some memory lapses" aggravated by his long recovery from lymphatic cancer, first diagnosed in 1999.

"Dementia runs in our family and he's now suffering the ravages prematurely due to the cancer that put him almost on the verge of death. Chemotherapy saved his life, but it also destroyed many neurons, many defenses and cells and accelerated the process," he said.

But Jaime García Márquez said it was still possible to converse with the 85-year-old master of magical realism and author of "One Hundred Years of Solitude," fondly known as "Gabo," who is still filled "with tremendous joy and enthusiasm, as he always has been. Always full of humor."

"When we speak to him, we are very concerned about his health but deeply happy in the end because he's still with us," he added.

Jaime Abello, director of the Gabriel García Márquez New Journalism Foundation in Cartagena, disputed the report, telling The New York Times the famous author has not been diagnosed with dementia and it has been well known that García Márquez would not publish another book. He said he disagreed the author has dementia, adding that "it is an interpretation based on someone who does not share daily life with him.”

“I saw him in April,” Abello told the Times. “He is a man of 85 with the normal signs of his age.”

The brother of the 1982 Nobel literature laureate said he has tried to keep news about Gabo's health a secret, not because there is anything people should not know "but because it's his life and he's always tried to protect it."

"The fact is there are lots of comments. Some are true but they're always filled with morbid (details). Sometimes you get the sense they'd rather he were dead, as if his death were some great news," he said.

Jaime García Márquez, who heads the Ibero-American New Journalism Foundation, founded by Gabo in 1994 in Cartagena, said it is regrettable that his brother is not in condition to write the second part of his autobiography, "Vivir para contarla" (Living to Tell the Tale), nor any other work.

"Unfortunately, I don't think that'll be possible, but I hope I'm wrong," he said. 

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