Chilean author Luis Sepulveda dies from Covid-19 in northern Spain

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

The best-selling Chilean author and activist, who spent much of his life in exile in Europe, was taken to hospital on February 25 after first showing Covid-19 symptoms upon returning from a book festival in Portugal. By 10 March, local newspapers reported he was in critical condition, but since then, no further details had 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, where the author had lived for the past 20 years.

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. He was jailed and tortured by the Pinochet regime after a US-backed military coup overthrew Chile's democracy in 1973, but was freed two-and-half years later after Amnesty International intervened.

Sepulveda was exiled in 1977 and travelled extensively before settling in Europe, where he became fluent in French, Italian and English.

He rose to international prominence in the late 1980s with his first novel "The Old Man Who Read Love Stories", and went on to write some 20 novels, chronicles, stories and children's books.

Known for their grace, simple humour and depictions of ordinary life in Latin America, his works have been translated into multiple languages.

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