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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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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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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 ...


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 ...
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 ...


Duncan Wheeler: Bullfighting

12 July 2017
... and mother of Enrique Iglesias by her first husband, Julio) was there with her latest consort, Mario VargasLlosa; Carmen Martínez-Bordiú, Franco’s granddaughter, whose popularity has risen since she appeared on the Spanish version of Strictly Come Dancing, was also in attendance. Matadors have been welcomed ...
28 September 1989
The Vision of Elena Silves 
by Nicholas Shakespeare.
Collins, 263 pp., £11.95, September 1989, 0 00 271031 5
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Billy Bathgate 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Macmillan, £11.95, September 1989, 0 333 51376 2
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Buffalo Afternoon 
by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer.
Hamish Hamilton, 535 pp., £12.95, August 1989, 0 241 12634 7
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The Message to the Planet 
by Iris Murdoch.
Chatto, 563 pp., £13.95, October 1989, 0 7011 3479 8
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... photographs. He may no longer even be alive. Nevertheless, according to the Peruvian novelist Mario VargasLlosa, Guzman is ‘the object of religious devotion’ to his Senderista followers and of holy terror to Peru’s middle classes. Nicholas Shakespeare’s fascination with Sendero Luminoso expressed itself in ...

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