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Darkest Peru

John Sturrock, 19 February 1987

The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta 
by Mario VargasLlosa.
Faber, 310 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 571 14579 5
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The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor 
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Randolph Hogan.
Cape, 106 pp., £8.95, November 1986, 0 224 02160 5
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... Mario VargasLlosa has written a fine novel, political and unstintingly pessimistic, a dire collation of the fiasco of a single Peruvian life with the chronic mismanagement and distempers of Peru. As narrative, it may be complicatedly told, with much canny transiting between present and past, but the formal ingenuities work to the one end, of delivering a full and unhappy report on the way things have been or are in the novelist’s homeland ...

The Real Life of Melodrama

Philip Horne, 16 June 1983

Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter 
by Mario VargasLlosa, translated by Helen Lane.
Faber, 374 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 571 13021 6
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... The Perpetual Orgy (1975) – the title is a phrase of Flaubert’s for the life of writing – Mario VargasLlosa says what he likes in novels: ‘the greatest satisfaction a novel can give me is by stimulating, as I read, my admiration for some act of rebellion; my anger at some stupidity or injustice; my ...

Little Viper

Lorna Scott Fox: Mario VargasLlosa, 17 September 1998

The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto 
by Maria Vargas Llosa, translated by Edith Grossman.
Faber, 259 pp., £15.99, July 1998, 0 571 19309 9
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... displaced the overripe, over-imitated Márquez from the top of my list: Julio Cortázar and Mario VargasLlosa. The first constructed a dream of Buenos Aires and Paris, balancing paper-thin speculations in a bubble of eternal studenthood. The second couldn’t have been more different. A pungent brutality steeped ...

A Man of No Mind

Colm Tóibín: The Passion of Roger Casement, 13 September 2012

The Dream of the Celt 
by Mario VargasLlosa and Edith Grossman.
Faber, 404 pp., £18.99, June 2012, 978 0 571 27571 7
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... who first drew attention to the crimes committed in the Congo in the name of progress and trade. Mario VargasLlosa wrote about them in an essay published in 2001: ‘Both deserve the honours of a great novel.’ Such a novel would have to live in the shadow of the short work Conrad produced nine years after he left ...

Informals of the world unite

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 9 November 1989

The Other Path: The Invisible Revolution in the Third World 
by Hernando de Soto, translated by June Abbott.
Tauris, 271 pp., £14.95, June 1989, 1 85043 144 2
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Cocaine: White Gold Rush in Peru 
by Edmundo Morales.
University of Arizona Press, 228 pp., £17.95, August 1989, 0 8165 1066 0
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A Concise Economic History of the World: From Paleolithic Times to the Present 
by Rondo Cameron.
Oxford, 437 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 19 504677 3
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... to discuss it with the American Treasury Secretary. De Soto says he was prompted to write it by Mario VargasLlosa, who himself introduces it and has in effect made it his manifesto for the Presidential election in Peru next year. Its first part is a report of research done in the Peruvian capital by de Soto’s own ...

Nothing’s easy

Philip Horne, 26 November 1987

The Perpetual Orgy 
by Mario VargasLlosa, translated by Helen Lane.
Faber, 240 pp., £9.95, July 1987, 0 571 14550 7
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Captain Pantoja and the Special Service 
by Mario VargasLlosa, translated by Gregory Kolovakos and Ronald Christ.
Faber, 244 pp., £3.95, June 1987, 0 571 14818 2
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... inventing a biographer-narrator to fight a long rearguard action against the death of the author. Mario VargasLlosa’s The Perpetual Orgy (first published in 1975, and only now translated into English) is the work of a novelist whose creative imagination more than equals that of Barnes in complexity and ...

Memories of a Skinny Girl

Michael Wood: Mario VargasLlosa, 9 May 2002

The Feast of the Goat 
by Mario VargasLlosa, translated by Edith Grossman.
Faber, 404 pp., £16.99, March 2002, 0 571 20771 5
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The Decline and Fall of the Lettered City: Latin America in the Cold War 
by Jean Franco.
Harvard, 323 pp., £15.95, May 2002, 0 674 00842 1
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... Reasons of State (1974), Gabriel García Márquez’s Autumn of the Patriarch (1975), and now Mario VargasLlosa’s The Feast of the Goat (2000). The time lag is probably significant, since the latest book is the most literal and least hypnotised of the four. This is a virtue, but not entirely a virtue. On the ...

A Show of Heads

Carlos Fuentes, 19 March 1987

I the Supreme 
by Augusto Roa Bastos, translated by Helen Lane.
Faber, 433 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 0 571 14626 0
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... In the autumn of 1967 in London, I coincided with the Peruvian novelist Mario VargasLlosa. We had both read, recently and with admiration, as well as a touch of envy, Edmund Wilson’s masterly portraits of the American Civil War, Patriotic Gore. Sitting in a pub in Hampstead, we thought it would be a good idea to have a comparable book on Latin America ...

Those Heads on the Stakes

Philip Horne, 23 May 1985

The War of the End of the World 
by Mario VargasLlosa and Helen Lane.
Faber, 568 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 9780571131143
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... cannon, carbine, dynamite and bayonet. Faber’s blurb is misleading, though, when it describes Mario VargasLlosa’s newly-translated novel (first published in Spanish in 1981) as ‘inspired by a real episode in Brazilian history’. Misleading not because Canudos is not ‘a real episode’ – it took place all ...

Clean Sweep

Philip Horne, 10 May 1990

Love and Garbage 
by Ivan Klima, translated by Ewald Osers.
Chatto, 217 pp., £12.95, March 1990, 0 7011 3362 7
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The Storyteller 
by Mario VargasLlosa, translated by Helen Lane.
Faber, 246 pp., £12.99, April 1990, 0 571 15208 2
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The Chase 
by Alejo Carpentier, translated by Alfred Mac Adam.
Deutsch, 122 pp., £9.95, March 1990, 0 233 98550 6
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Aura 
by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Lysander Kemp.
Deutsch, 88 pp., £9.95, April 1990, 0 233 98470 4
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... crucial figure for a narrating Jewish protagonist, though here not the main narrator (a version of Llosa himself, much as in The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta (1984)), but the ‘storyteller’ of the title, Saul Zuratas. The Kafka Saul is involved with is really the author, though, only of one story, ‘Metamorphosis’. Saul is a red-haired, hideously ...

Maaaeeestro!

Sanjay Subrahmanyam: Gabriel García Márquez, 27 August 2009

Gabriel García Márquez: A Life 
by Gerald Martin.
Bloomsbury, 668 pp., £25, October 2008, 978 0 7475 9476 5
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... in this as in other respects to compare him with his great contemporary from neighbouring Peru, Mario VargasLlosa, and not only because the two were good friends for a time before a celebrated falling-out. Martin has some interesting passages pointing to the parallels between their lives: difficulties with their ...

What happened at Ayacucho

Ronan Bennett, 10 September 1992

Shining Path: The World’s Deadliest Revolutionary Force 
by Simon Strong.
HarperCollins, 274 pp., £16.99, June 1992, 0 00 215930 9
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Shining Path of Peru 
edited by David Scott Palmer.
Hurst, 271 pp., £12.95, June 1992, 1 85065 152 3
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Peru under Fire: Human Rights since the Return of Democracy 
compiled by Americas Watch.
Yale, 169 pp., £12.95, June 1992, 0 300 05237 5
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... hoped that the 1990 General Election would be a turning-point. They pinned their hopes on Mario VargasLlosa. An internationally famous writer, elegant and urbane, Vargas Llosa was the man of light for those who believed in ‘the middle way’ between Sendero and the ...

They rode white horses

Peter Canby: Shining Path, 12 September 2013

Intimate Enemies: Violence and Reconciliation in Peru 
by Kimberly Theidon.
Pennsylvania, 461 pp., £49, November 2012, 978 0 8122 4450 2
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... to investigate what had happened; it included several Peruvian anthropologists and was headed by Mario VargasLlosa. The commission members were helicoptered into Uchuraccay, where they spent a morning. Some time later, they produced a report that blamed the murders on the violent nature of Peru’s indigenous ...

I and I

Philip Oltermann: Thomas Glavinic, 14 August 2008

Night Work 
by Thomas Glavinic, translated by John Brownjohn.
Canongate, 384 pp., £8.99, July 2008, 978 1 84767 051 9
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... new literary superstar: charming, intelligent, trilingual, exchanging email addresses with Mario VargasLlosa and fielding calls from Angela Merkel. In reality, Glavinic and Kehlmann are better matched. They are very similar writers, a literary double act: for a recent article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine ...

Call it magnificence

Michael Hofmann: Antonio Muñoz Molina, 20 December 2018

Like a Fading Shadow 
by Antonio Muñoz Molina, translated by Camilo A. Ramirez.
Serpent’s Tail, 310 pp., £9.99, May 2018, 978 1 78125 894 1
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... novel, Winter in Lisbon. These two strands are sandwiched together in alternate chapters in that Mario VargasLlosa way (though for all I know others did it earlier) that seems mechanical, undemanding, irrational and so perfectly ubiquitous it’s rare to get a single-strand novel going from A to Z these days. Both ...

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