Pablo Neruda finished “The Book of Questions” only months before his death in 1973. At that time he was terminally ill with cancer. But it’s likely that his cause of death was not cancer, but murder.
On September 11, 1973, General Augusto Pinochet led a military coup to overthrow the government of socialist President Salvador Allende. A few days later, Neruda was hospitalized for cancer treatment, but returned home because he suspected that he was being poisoned on Pinochet’s orders. Neruda died at home on September 23, 1973, hours after leaving the hospital. In 2013, a Chilean judge ordered an investigation into Neruda’s death. Neruda’s body was exhumed and examined. As a result, in 2015 the Interior Ministry of the Chilean government issued a statement of the government's official position that "it was clearly possible and highly likely" that Neruda was killed by "the intervention of third parties." New results from an examination by an international team of forensic experts are expected in 2019.