Mario Vargas Llosa


Mario Vargas Llosa is considered one of Latin America's greatest contemporary writers. Author of articles, essays and plays as well as novels, his work encompasses various narrative forms, from political novels to comic novels to mythico-political narration. His works have been translated into over 20 languages. "Writing a novel" -he says- "is a ceremony similar to a striptease. Just as the girl in the spotlight casts off her clothes and reveals her secrets one by one, the novelist bares his own intimate being through his novels."

Mario Vargas Llosa was born in Arequipa, Perú, on March 28, 1936. He attended the University of San Marcos in Lima and the University of Madrid, where he obtained the doctorate in 1959. Writer, journalist, critic and teacher, he has taught at the Queen Mary College and Kings College of the University of London, Washington State University, Pullman, the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, and Columbia University in New York. He was a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, D.C. He has been the recipient of many literary prizes among which are the Barral Prix Biblioteca Breve (1962), the Premio de la Crítica Española (1963 and 1966), the Premio Nacional de la Novela (1967), the Premio del Instituto Italo Latinoamericano (Italy, 1982), the Ritz Paris Hemingway Award (1985), and the Premio Internacional de Literatura Rómulo Gallegos. Vargas Llosa was a journalist with La Industria, Piura, Perú, with Radio Panamericana and La Crónica, both of Lima and with Agence France-Presse and the French Radio- Television Network in Paris. He was also the host of the Peruvian television program "The Tower of Babel". In 1990, Vargas Llosa was the unsuccessful candidate for the Presidency of Perú for the Liberty Movement Party. In 1996 he was one of the founding members of the Fundación Hispano Cubana, an organisation which aims to maintain, reinforce and develop the links which have existed for over 500 years between the Cuban and Spanish people.

Read a larger biography published in The Guardian (United Kingdom)

His books

Among his works published in English:

The Time of the Hero
English translation by Lisander Kemp.
Spanish title: La ciudad y los perros (Barcelona: Seix Barral, 1963)
English Editor: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Incorporated / November 1986

Note: The book is set in the Leoncio Prado Military Academy in Lima, which Vargas Llosa himself attended in the early 1950s. It describes the life led by the cadets—the perros (dogs) of the title—at the school, contrasting their experience of oppression, discipline, and bullying with the freer life in the city around them.

The Green House
Spanish title: La Casa Verde (Barcelona: Seix Barral, 1965)
- Farrar, Straus & Giroux. August 1985
English translation by Gregory Rabassa.

Note: Life in the remote Peruvian jungle is compared to life in the urban environment of Piura, Peru. Rómulo Gallegos International Prize of Novel 1967.

The Cubs and other stories
Spanish title: Los cachorros / Los jefes (Barcelona: Seix Barral, 1980)
Editor: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Incorporated. December 1989
English translation by Gregogry Kolovakos

Note: The Cubs is the story of a boy who's castrated by a dog while taking a shower in the school starts to freak the boy out forever. Also includes the author's first book of short-stories named "Los jefes", which primarily came out in Spanish in 1958 and won the Leopoldo Alas Prize.

Conversation in The Cathedral
Spanish title: Conversación en La Catedral (Barcelona: Seix Barral, 1969)
Editor: Harper & Row (New York), 1975.
English translation by Gregory Rabassa

Note: Deals with the regime of Manuel Odría, president of Peru from 1948 to 1956: military, journalists, hitmen, prostitutes and cops in this total novel. One of the best novels of this peruvian author, along The war of the end of the world. Highly recommended.

García Márquez: Story of a God-killer (1977)
Spanish title: García Márquez: historia de un deicidio (Barral, 1971)
Note: Study of the fiction of Colombian writer and Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez.

Captain Pantoja and the Special Services
Spanish title: Pantaleón y las visitadoras (Seix Barral, 1973)
Editor: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Incorporated / September 1990
English translation by Ronald Christ and Gregory Kolovakos

Note: Satirizes military and religious zeal in Peru. A whorehouse for the milicy in Iquitos is stablished and the captain Pantaleón Pantoja is called to run it: he's a model of military man, right and just. But when he falls in love of one of the prostitutes, everything, his life, the city, the army, falls down.

The perpetual orgy: Flaubert and 'Madame Bovary'
Spanish title: La orgía perpetua: Flaubert y "Madame Bovary" (Seix Barral-Taurus, 1975)
Editor: Farrar, Straus (New York), 1986.
English translation by Helen Lane

Note: The author writes this essay about Gustave Flaubert, french writer of the famous novel "Madame Bovary", which the peruvian novelist loves.

Aunt Julia and the scriptwriter
Spanish title: La tía Julia y el escribidor (Seix Barral, 1977)
Editor: Penguin. August 1995

The war of the end of the world
Spanish title: La guerra del fin del mundo (Seix Barral, 1981)
Editor: Penguin. January 1997
English translation by Helen Lane.

Note: A historical novel about politics in Brazil in the 19th century, won wide acclaim throughout Latin America and became a best-seller in Spanish-speaking countries.

The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta
Spanish title: Historia de Mayta (Seix Barral-Sudamericana, 1984)
Editor: Farrar, Straus (New York), 1986.
English translation by Alfred MacAdam.

Who Killed Palomino Molero?
Spanish title: ¿Quién mató a Palomino Molero? (Barcelona: Seix Barral, 1986)
Editor: Farrar, Straus (New York), 1987.
English translation by Alfred MacAdam

Note: The brutal killing of young airplane driver Palomino Molero is investigated by Lieutenant Silva and his partner Lituma, and they find the expected when they face the power and corruption of the whole military institution. Well made book, kudos to humor and funny situations unexpected in a police novel like this one.

The Storyteller
Spanish title: El hablador (Barcelona: Seix Barral, 1987)
Editor: Penguin. September 1990
English translation by Helen Lane.

In Praise of the Stepmother
Spanish title: Elogio de la madrastra (Editorial Tusquets, 1988)
Editor: Viking Penguin / August 1991

Note: "Los cuadernos de don Rigoberto"'s characters first sight. Lucrecia is the stepmother who can't resist her stepson Fonchito's attractive. And Rigoberto is the naive Fonchito's father that doesn't know anything... yet.

Three Plays
Mario Vargas Llosa / David Graham-Young (Translator) / Paperback / August 1990

A Writer's Reality (click to buy it at B& N)

Mario Vargas Llosa,Myron I. Lichtblau (Editor) / Hardcover / Syracuse University Press / December 1990

Note: This is a collection of lectures delivered in 1988 at Syracuse University. Vargas Llosa "begins by praising Borges's contribution to Latin Americanliterature, then chronicles the development of fiction as filtered through the history of Peruvian culture; the remaining six essays {seek to} document theprocess of fiction writing in six of his novels."

So Very English: A Serpent's Tail Companion

Susan Daitch,Mario Vargas-Llosa,Marsha Rowe (Editor) / Paperback / Serpent's Tail / January 1992

Note: Rowe's lively collection of 33 stories and poems on English life is often humorous, usually engrossing and altogether merciless. Kathy Lette's monologue presents a supremely bitchy London career woman who meets her match and is neatly skewered over the tea table at a Soho Literary Club. Mario Vargas Llosa's story recounts the trials of sharing an Earls Court flat with innumerable mice (all named Oscar) that have as their ally an antiquated set of fumigation laws.

A Fish in the Water. Memories
Spanish title: El pez en el agua. Memorias (Seix Barral, 1993)
Editor: Penguin, 1994.
English translation by Helen Lane.
Synopsis: Mario Vargas Llosa -- by using alternating chapters -- tells his life story, and the story of his run for the presidency of his native Peru in 1990.
This book should be in everyone's reading list.The extraordinary life of an extraordinary writer:
This candid, at times unflinchingly honest, book rivals some of the outstanding memoirs of our times (such as Speak, Memory, and others) in richness, texture, and quality of detail. The dual structure brings to mind the "vasos comunicantes" of his work in fiction, overlapping the early years with the political campaign.

Death in the Andes
Spanish title: Lituma en los Andes (Planeta, 1993)
Editor: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. August 1995
English translation by Edith Grossman.

Death in the Andes
Editor: Penguin. January 1997
English translation by Edith Gorssman

The Madness of Things Peruvian: Democracy under Siege
Mario Vargas Llosa / Hardcover / Transaction Publishers / January 1994

The notebooks of Don Rigoberto
Spanish title: Los cuadernos de don Rigoberto (Alfaguara, 1997)
Editor: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. May 1998.
English translation by Edith Grossman.

Making Waves: Essays

Editor: John King / Viking Penguin / June 1998

National book critics circle Award 1998 (Essay)

Note: It's in his personal essays, journalistic investigations and philosophical musings-- syndicated throughout the Spanish-speaking world--where one sees the range of Vargas Llosa's experience and thinking.

Making Waves brings together for the first time, in English, a selection of these wide-ranging essays spanning the past three decades. He turns his erudite gaze on world events, art, literature, sports, philosophy, and the everyday absurdities of life in his adopted countries (Spain, France and England).

The Feast of the Goat
Spanish title: La Fiesta del Chivo (Alfaguara, 2000)
Editor: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 2000.
English translation by Edith Grossman.


Martín Chambi: Photographs, 1920 - 1950
Introduction written by Mario Vargas Llosa, Edward Ranney and Publio López Mondejar
Editor: Smithsonian Institution Press.
Date: April 1993























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