Mario Vargas Llosa: Fiction and hyper-reality


“When Mario Vargas Llosa, the precocious star of the 1960s ‘boom’ in Latin American fiction, ran for president in 1990 in his native Peru, many of his most avid readers prayed he would lose. As his friend, the Cuban writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante, observed: ‘Peru’s uncertain gain would be literature’s loss. Literature is eternity, politics mere history.’  That may have been scant consolation to the vanquished Vargas Llosa when the dark-horse victor, Alberto Fujimori, seized dictatorial powers in 1992 and fell only in 2000 in one of the most bizarre corruption scandals in Latin American history. But for the nearly man, who maintains that he lost the election largely for telling the truth, his candidacy was a ‘terrible mistake’ which he does not regret. ‘It was a very instructive experience, though not pleasant,’ he smiles stiffly. ‘I learned a lot about Peru, about politics and about myself: I learned I’m not a politician but a writer.’ For the expatriate Spanish writer Juan Goytisolo, Vargas Llosa is ‘one of the best novelists in the Spanish language of our time’. In 1963 at only 26, having published a ground-breaking debut novel The Time Of The Hero, Vargas Llosa was in the forefront of the boom, garnering international acclaim for Latin American literature, alongside the Mexican Carlos Fuentes and the Colombian Gabriel García Márquez. But far from being an exponent of their ‘magic realism’ he is a ‘hyper-realist’, says Jason Wilson, professor of Latin American literature at University College London. Yet Vargas Llosa’s political trajectory has brought him enemies. His move from supporting to denouncing Fidel Castro’s Cuba in the early 1970s spurred a falling out with the boom authors; he ridiculed his erstwhile friend García Márquez as ‘Castro’s courtesan’. By the 1980s he had declared a curious affinity with British conservative thinking. He later stood for the Peruvian presidency on a platform of Andean Thatcherism. …”
Guardian
New Yorker: Restless Realism

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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