There must be something beyond slaughter and barbarism to support the existence of mankind.

Author Carlos Fuentes, who played a dominant role in Latin America's novel-writing boom by delving into the failed ideals of the Mexican revolution, died on Tuesday in a Mexico City hospital. He was 83.

Mexico's National Council for Culture for the Arts confirmed the death of the celebrated novelist. The cause wasn't immediately known.

A message on President Felipe Calderon's Twitter account said: “I deeply lament the death of our beloved and admired Carlos Fuentes, a universal Mexican writer.” Fuentes himself tweeted one day, on March 19, 2011, his last saying: “There must be something beyond slaughter and barbarism to support the existence of mankind, and we must all help search for it.”

The prolific Fuentes wrote his first novel, Where the Air is Clear at age 29, laying the foundation for a boom in Spanish contemporary literature during the 1960s and 1970s.

Fuentes was often mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel prize, but never won one. A busy man, he wrote plays and short stories and co-founded a literary magazine. He was also a columnist, political analyst, essayist and critic.

He was often critical of American governments and of a rich country that should attend to its poor, but not of Americans and American culture. “To call me anti-American is a stupendous lie, a calumnia. I grew up in this country. When I was a little boy, I shook the hand of Franklin Roosevelt, and I haven't washed it since,” he said with characteristic good humour.

Throughout his life, he also taught courses at Harvard, Princeton, Columbia and Brown universities in the United States.

Fuentes was married from 1959 to 1973 to actress Rita Macedo, with whom he had his only surviving daughter.

He always postponed writing on himself. “One puts off the biography like you put off death,” he said. “To write an autobiography is to etch the words on your own gravestone.”

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