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Congratulations Mario Vargas Llosa
October 7, 2010

One of my favorite authors won the 2010 Noble Prize for literature. Mario Vargas Llosa's books have a wide range of styles, voices, themes, and, well, just plain story. His diversity reminds me of John Updike, although I don't know if Updike would have ever won a Nobel Prize. Anyway, we will never know as he passed away a year ago. (Aside: read my virtual encounter with Updike here).

N.Y. Times lead book reviewer, Michiko Kakutani, sums Llosa's works very well: "There are harrowing narratives based on historical events like Rafael Trujillo’s tyrannical rule over the Dominican Republic (“The Feast of the Goat”) and a 19th-century religious uprising in the backlands of Brazil (“The War of the End of the World”). There are also some delightfully inventive post-modernist confections: an antic, comic portrait of an obsessive writer, who cranks out 10 half-hour soap opera scripts a day (“Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter”); a Chinese puzzle box of a detective story that begins with a gruesome murder in 1950s Peru (“Who Killed Palomino Molero?”), and a suspenseful, “Groundhog Day”-like improvisation upon Flaubert’s classic “Madame Bovary” (“The Bad Girl”)." She goes on to find a common theme of freedom and liberation through art. Read the essay here.

Llosa made a recent run at the Peruvian presidency. He lost, perhaps because his critics accused him of being part of the "elite" and thus not in touch with the majority of the population living in poverty. He was also criticized for living much of each year in London. But that a novelist could come close to the presidency speaks as much about Llosa as the respect novelists are granted in other countries. In Japan for instance, portraits of novelists are on some of the country's paper currency. The Irish nearly worship their novelists. I can't think of any of our novelists who rise to that level of respect.

I'm happy to see Llosa win the Nobel Prize as more people will read his work. And I'll be re-reading a couple of my favorites.

COMMENTS

Number of comments: 2
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Jo Reed
Have read a couple of his novels, liked "Who Killed ..." but "The Bad Girl" was a tough read.

Gail
Vargas Llosa is one of my favorite writers too. I am fluent in Spanish, so I can enjoy his writing in the original. I was lucky enough to meet him when he came through Miami to present his play "Kathy y el hipopotamo".

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