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Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa wins Nobel Prize in literature

By Jacqueline Trescott

Mario Vargas Llosa, the Peruvian writer and literary giant in the Spanish-speaking world, was awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature, the Swedish Academy announced Thursday.

vargas
Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa. (AP)

Vargas Llosa, 74, whose body of work includes more than 30 novels, essays and plays is the first South American writer to win the coveted prize since Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Colombian storyteller who is much better known than Vargas Llosa. Marquez won in 1982.

In part because of the spotlight Marquez drew to South American literature, Vargas Llosa's best-selling work has been widely translated in English, French, Swedish and German.

Like many Nobel laureates, Vargas Llosa has written works that his country's authorities didn't appreciate. "The Time of the Hero," released in 1963, described some of his harsh experiences in a military academy and the officials of the school burnt 1,000 copies.

In their tribute to Vargas Llosa, the Swedish Academy cited a theme of "individual's resistance" in announcing the honor.

The prize was given, the officials said in a statement, "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt and defeat."

VIDEO: Watch announcement | AUDIO: Vargas Llosa reacts to news

ESSAY: The perennial candidate, Llosa is given his due

 Some of his best-known works include "The Green House," "Conversation in the Cathedral," "Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter," "A Fish in the Water: a Memoir," "The Feast of the Goat" and "The Storyteller." He has been praised for his unblemished examination of hypocrisy, most often training an eye on Peruvian society. But he has also produced humorous work and detective stories.

Vargas Llosa, who was born in Arequipa, Peru, spent some of his early years in Bolivia but his family returned to Peru in 1946.

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Peter Englund, chairman of the Royal Swedish Academy, presents the Nobel Literature laureate in Stockholm. (AP)

His ambitions to be a writer were opposed by his father, who sent him to the military school.

Leaving Peru for a while, Vargas Llosa has also worked as a language teacher and journalist in France. When he returned, he became heavily involved in the country's politics and in 1990 became a candidate for president. He lost in a run-off election and, then returned to writing.

His other honors include winning the Cervantes Prize in 1995, the highest literary honor in the Spanish-speaking world.

Vargas Llosa is teaching this semester at Princeton University.

The announcement continues the drought for American writers. No American has won the literature prize since novelist Toni Morrison in 1993.

Telephone interview: Nobel editor talks with Vargas Llosa:
(Courtesy of Nobelprize.org)








More on this story:

ESSAY: The power of Mario Vargas Llosa's words

BLOGPOST: A quick primer on Mario Vargas Llosa

Excerpts from the Nobel literature prize citation

Winners of Nobel Prize in literature since 1960

READING ROOM: Nobels in Literature

REVIEW: Post critic on Llosa's novel 'The Bad Girl'

PHOTOS: 2010 Nobel Prize winners


By Mike McPhate  | October 7, 2010; 11:15 AM ET
Categories:  Books  
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Comments

I've only read a few of his books, but they are all very good, and I really enjoyed "Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter " when it came out. Congratulations to him.

Posted by: RMSeabrook | October 7, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Nobel prizes mean nothing anymore. Not after Obama got one for just being Obama.

Yuck.

Posted by: Smarg | October 7, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

An excellent choice!

Posted by: DCguy6 | October 7, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse


Graham Greene did it first, and better.

Posted by: screwjob21 | October 7, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

As a Peruvian...I am not even proud because of Vargas Llosa award.
Personally, I don't like his style, I rather prefer Garcia Marquez. We were obblied in high school to read his books and even if I read again "The Green House" after 20 years, I was not able to understand the end.
In ""Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter," he is perfidious with the woman he loved and the woman who helped him to succeed.
Maybe Vargas Llosa is for many a good writer but as a person is racist and he showed it in his books his prejudices. He was defeated as politician because he stuck with the conservative and rich right wing and he appeared in the Media as a very superb person.
To give an example of his profound prejudices I tell this: He wrote an article in an Spanish journal remembering his youth memories. He told: "I had a very nice girl friend and I respect her to the extent that I didn't kiss her with my tongue. The tongue kisses were given to the indians.
Is this our Premio Nobel ?

Posted by: doritabella | October 7, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Has any non-leftist won the Nobel literature prize in the recent past?

Posted by: vismorge | October 7, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Vargas Llosa is a great writer, full stop.

Posted by: foldingtime | October 7, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

This is wonderful news to celebrate.
Congratulations to Mr. Mario Vargas Llosa and Peru!

Posted by: dummy4peace | October 7, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

"Has any non-leftist won the Nobel literature prize in the recent past?"

Where did you get the absurd idea that Vargas LLosa is a "leftist"? He might have been one in his youth, but in (at least) the last 30 years he has been an extreme and vociferous conservative. In Latin America and Europe he is considered far-right and despised for that. Only ignorant tea-baggers in the US would think of him as a "leftist".

Well, independently of his politics, he is a great writer, especially his early work is outstanding. He deserves the prize.


Posted by: George151 | October 7, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

doritabella, I wonder if Vargas Llosa is remembering his own prejudices as a youth, and perhaps poking fun at himself? I greatly enjoy his work, although I don't pretend to understand his politics. He seems to be more of a technocrat than an elitist, but I could be wrong. In any case, a worthy honor.

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | October 7, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Apparently,judging by some comments here, Americans are highly ignorant of contemporary world literature.

Posted by: fgominho | October 7, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Re: Vargas Llosa a leftist?

You have to be kidding. Nobody familiar with his literature and Peruvian politics has ever confused him with a leftist. Typical tripe from the knee-jerk right ... Vargas Llosa isn't a North American so he must be a leftist.

BTW, V.S. Naipul, a rather conservative guy, won the Nobel in '01. Does that not count as a foreign conservative since he wrote in English?

Posted by: HappiAbbi | October 7, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

like Polanski, except with his cousin.... if you enjoy a man's art, his person is of little regard.
congrats, I reckon

Posted by: mloaks | October 7, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

This is great news! As a fellow Peruvian I am proud and congratulate Mr. Vargas Llosa for this award. To DoritaBella, please do everybody a favor and leave your baised political views out of the table. I may be wrong, but judging by your remarks you might be a "Fujimorista", If so, (and again, if I'm mistaken, please accept my apologies), then you might want to read (or listen) to what one of you dear leaders just said in Peruvian media, Mrs. Martha Hildbreant, and I quote: "We must differentiate his political life from his literary/artistic life, I am immensely happy", so there, you might not like him, but that doesn't give you the right to diminish his achievements.

Posted by: WillyJoel | October 7, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

"Apparently,judging by some comments here, Americans are highly ignorant of contemporary world literature."

The more we Americans know, the better. But one wonders what percentage of the world's people, even in the developed nations, is knowledgeable about "contemporary world literature."
- - - -
Border Enforcement + Immigration Moratorium = Job, Crime and Eco Sanity.

Posted by: tma_sierrahills | October 7, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse


I doubt the smarmy knucklehead who dubs himself an expert on world literature has read Graham Greene the Briton.

Posted by: screwjob21 | October 7, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

.

Hey Democrats,

How come Pres. Obama didn't get another prize? Two is better than one.

BYE BYE

DEMOCRATS

.

Posted by: kstobbe1 | October 7, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Screwjob: You are an @ss

kstobbe1: take a break from the hareade, dud!!!

Posted by: rastaman48 | October 7, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

The structure of power in the animal kingdom is aggression and domination over others by the strongest and fittest. Governance of peers is by the alpha dog or the most aggressive, biggest and strongest gorilla over females and young males. The resistance comes when a younger gorilla challenges the leader and is defeated or wins the leadership and dominance role over the group.

Human behavior reflects animal instincts. As an example, read Hugo Chavez’s use of military command to achieve power and leadership over the people. Human quest for power over others is enhanced by speech and propaganda. Tell them what they want to hear, then there is less chance for resistance, revolt and defeat. There is an alternative to the constant human struggle from birth to death.

God was manifest in Jesus Christ who over came this present evil world and death. God his Father raised him from the dead, pour out the Holy Spirit that we may be born again in the Spirit and live and breathe in the presence of God dwelling within us by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ whose word gave us existence and by which all things were made. Read the New Testament of the Bible.

Posted by: klausdmk | October 7, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

He´s been helped by the fact he switched his views from left to right, from third world to Euro. Compared to the crop of latin writers from the 60´s and 70´s and 80´s, he´s a wannabe, a writer confused and ashamed of his roots. The scandinavians flopped on this one.

Posted by: WindLessBreeze | October 7, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

It was about time. By far he is one of the best novelist alive. Congratulation Mario.

Posted by: jmnunez | October 7, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Bravo! A well deserved prize. Next year the Nobel committee should give strong consideration for the literature award to either Mexico's Carlos Fuentes or Spain's Arturo Perez-Reverte. Both are giants and both have been well published in English, though I personnally prefer to read them in Spanish. -- Edd Doerr

Posted by: EddDoerr | October 7, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

@doritabella: thanks so much for the information on his conservative politics. although i did enjoy THE STORYTELLER, i do understand what you are saying. thanks again. and by the way, aren't some of these posters downright stupid, bordering on the illiterate saying things like he must be leftist or that the Nobel prize means nothing anymore now that Obama has won. makes me wonder just how many books they've read, how many authors they can actually name and how they could have such bad things to say about people who always speak so well of them.

Posted by: zhanaya | October 7, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

in any event...he is peruvian-spaniard!!! does this tell you somenthing!!!!

Posted by: adalbertopalma | October 8, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Hands down, Vargas Llosa is a fantastic writer. I'm hooked by the end of the first line. Yet, his last book, The Bad Girl (Travesuras de la nina mala) was horrifically racist. The French were stingy, the British only loved horses, the Japanese gangsters and sex perverts, and Blacks were given the worst tag of all as vicious HIV infected rapists. They weren't even referred to by their nations like the other characters, but rather as los negros.

But truth be told, given the rivalry betweeen Chileans and Peruvians, I'm not to sure it's a compliment that the main character is a heartless,lying no class Chilean girl; a totally despicable character.
He appears to be alright with a Jewish and an Argentinian character.

The Washington Post book reviewe,r Jonathan Yardley, reviewed this book and mentions not one word of the rampant racism. Not one word. Was he afraid to bash such a major icon?

If an American or European is racist, God help him, but somehow book reviewers and Latin American literary critics and professors blast Americans as literary thugs that are prejudiced against these "poor Latin American writers. (The majority of whom are practically aristocrats in their home countries. No reason to feel sorry for them.)

Yet, that most Latin American writers, including the younger ones like Jorge Volpi and Jorge Franco,regularly resort to racist stereotypes in their works is never mentioned.
I guess because they're third world writers it is okay if they're racists.

Vargas Llosa doesn't deserve the Nobel Prize.

Posted by: galitamannix | October 11, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Hands down, Vargas Llosa is a fantastic writer. I'm hooked by the end of the first line. Yet, doritabella is right.His last book, The Bad Girl (Travesuras de la nina mala) was horrifically racist. The French were stingy, the British only loved horses, the Japanese gangsters and sex perverts, and Blacks were given the worst tag of all as vicious HIV infected rapists. They weren't even referred to by their nations like the other characters, but rather as 'those blacks'.

Given the rivalry betweeen Chileans and Peruvians, I'm not to sure it's a compliment that the main character is a heartless,lying no class Chilean girl; a totally despicable character.
He appears to be alright with a Jewish and an Argentinian character.

The Washington Post book reviewe,r Jonathan Yardley, reviewed this book and mentions not one word of the rampant racism. Not one word. Was he afraid to bash such a major icon?

If an American or European is racist, God help him, but somehow book reviewers and Latin American literary critics and professors blast Americans as literary thugs that are prejudiced against these "poor Latin American writers. (The majority of whom are practically aristocrats in their home countries. No reason to feel sorry for them.)

Yet, that most Latin American writers, including the younger ones like Jorge Volpi and Jorge Franco,regularly resort to racist stereotypes in their works is never mentioned.
I guess because they're third world writers it is okay if they're racists.

Vargas Llosa doesn't deserve the Nobel Prize.

Galita Mannix

Posted by: galitamannix | October 11, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse

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