Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa wins Nobel Prize for literature
Peruvian-born writer and one-time presidential candidate Mario Vargas Llosa, a chronicler of people’s struggles against authority in Latin America, won the 2010 Nobel prize for literature on Thursday.
The awarding committee said in a statement Mr. Vargas Llosa received the award “for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt and defeat”.
Mr. Vargas Llosa, who made his international breakthrough with the novel The Time of the Hero in 1966, is the first Latin American winner for literature since Octavio Paz won in 1990.
His works build on his experiences of life in Peru in the late 1940s and the 1950s. Mr. Vargas Llosa ran for president of Peru in 1990 but lost to Alberto Fujimori, who ultimately had to flee the country and was subsequently convicted of various crimes.
Peter Englund, permanent secretary of the Nobel committee, said he had telephoned Mr. Vargas Llosa, who was in the United States, with the news.
“He’s actually having a two-month stint there in Princeton teaching, so I was sort of embarrassed for phoning him so early. But he had been up since 5 o’clock preparing a lecture for Princeton. He was elated. He was very, very moved.”
Mr. Englund bubbled over in his praise of the writer.
“He has a number of masterpieces in narration because essentially he’s a narrator, he’s a storyteller. My goodness, what a storyteller!”
Mr. Englund characterised Mr. Vargas Llosa as one of the great authors in the Spanish-speaking world. “He is one of the persons behind the Latin-American literary boom of the ‘60s and ‘70s, and he has continued to work and expand.”
Mr. Vargas Llosa’s works are strewn with figures of power and authority. In The Feast of the Goat, a 49-year-old woman returns to the Dominican Republic, haunted by memories of her childhood when the nation was led by brutal dictator Rafael Trujillo.
The story tells of her efforts to overcome a traumatic past:
“Were you right to come back? You’ll be sorry, Urania… returning to the island you swore you’d never set foot on again…,” he writes.
“To prove to yourself you can walk along the streets of this city that is no longer yours, travel through this foreign country and not have it provoke sadness, nostalgia, hatred, bitterness, rage in you.”
Mr. Vargas Llosa, who has lectured and taught at universities in Latin America, the United States and Europe, is also a noted journalist and essayist, the committee said.
The prize of US$1.5-million was the fourth of this year’s Nobel prizes, following awards for medicine on Monday, physics on Tuesday and chemistry on Wednesday.
From: © Thomson Reuters 2010 (National Post .com)