Peru: Mario Vargas Llosa is Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature

On Thursday October 7, Peruvians woke up to what has been called the “News of the Year”: Mario Vargas Llosa was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature by the Swedish Academy.

José Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa was born in 1936 in Arequipa. While he was still a child and after his parents’ divorce, he and his maternal family moved to Cochabamba, Bolivia. Later on, the whole family returned to Peru, as his grandfather was appointed for a diplomatic post in the Northern Peruvian city of Piura. At the age of 10 he moved to Lima. There, he met his father for the first time. Until that moment, he believed his father had passed away.

He attended the Leoncio Prado Military Academy in Lima, but he withdrew and finished his studies in Piura. He then got admitted into the National University of San Marcos to study Law and Literature. At age 19 he married Julia Urquidi, who was his maternal uncle's sister-in-law and was 13 years his senior. At a very young age he started to work as journalist for Peruvian newspapers.

When he graduated from college, he was granted a scholarship to study at the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain. Once the scholarship ended, he and his wife moved to Paris. They got divorced in 1964 and a year later he married his first cousin Patricia. He has three children: Alvaro, Gonzalo and Morgana.

In 1990 he ran for the Peruvian presidency, but got defeated by Alberto Fujimori.

The Academy decided to award Vargas Llosa with the Nobel Prize “for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat.”

Mario Vargas Llosa at the Cervantes Institute in New York on October 7, 2010, after the announcement that he had received the Nobel Prize in Literature. Image by Flickr user Globovision, under an Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license.

As expected, the Peruvian blogosphere is abuzz with the news.

The blog Mate Pastor [es], by Juan Sheput, shares the words Vargas Llosa said for a local radio:

Indicó que él ya se encontraba trabajando en su despacho, a las 5:30 de la mañana, preparando sus clases pues dicta cátedra en la universidad de Princeton, cuando lo llamaron de la Academia Sueca indicándole que en 14 minutos darían el anuncio.
Mario Vargas Llosa indicó que él pensó que era una broma, como años antes, cruelmente, le hicieron a un escritor italiano, Alberto Moravia.

[Mario Vargas Llosa] noted he was already working in his office at 5:30 in the morning, preparing his lectures for he is a Professor at Princeton University, when the Swedish Academy called him to let him know that in 14 minutes the announcement will be made.
Mario Vargas Llosa pointed out he thought it was a joke, as the one cruelly played on Italian writer Alberto Moravia years ago.

The bloggers from Sophimania [es] wrote a post with the title “At last! Vargas Llosa is awarded Nobel Prize of Literature”:

En una primera declaración, desde los EEUU, Vargas Llosa dijo sentirse “muy conmovido y entusiasmado” por el premio. El escritor peruano, quien también tiene la nacionalidad española, reside por ahora en nueva York ya que dicta clases en la Universidad de Princeton.

On a first statement from the US, Vargas Llosa said he was “very moved and enthusiastic” with the award. The Peruvian writer, who is also a Spanish citizen, is residing for now in New York City, as he is lecturing at Princeton University.

The blog Marcamasi [es], by Gustavo Alayza, expresses something that surely had been in the minds of Peruvian citizens more than once:

Fue el eterno candidato. No eran muchos los medios que resaltaban este año podía hacer la diferencia, sí indicaban era una posibilidad. Fue una agradable sorpresa. Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa fue elegido Premio Nobel de Literatura 2010.

He was the eternal candidate. Not many media highlighted that this year could make a difference, although they noted there was a possibility. It was a nice surprise. Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa was chosen as Nobel Prize in Literature 2010.

C. Valcárcel, the blogger from Nos siguen pegando abajo [es], tells us about his first literary encounter with Vargas Llosa:

Tendría yo menos de diez años y había encontrado en la biblioteca de mi casa una antología de cuentos peruanos. Había empezado, precavidamente, por los cuentos más cortos, dejando los más extensos para otros momentos. Sin embargo, el último cuento que me faltaba por leer, y que también era el último de la antología, no era el más extenso. Lo había intentado leer anteriormente, pero me parecía algo extraño. Para mí era casi una ficción, alumnos rebelándose contra el director del colegio (¿militar?). El cuento se llamaba Los Jefes y era de Vargas Llosa.

I was probably less than ten years old and had found at my home's library an anthology of Peruvian tales. Cautiously, I had started by the shortest ones, leaving the longest for other moments. However, the last one I had to read, which was also the last of the anthology, wasn't the longest one. I had tried to read it before, but it seemed kind of strange. To me, it was almost fiction, students rebelling against the school principal (military school?). The story was titled Los Jefes (The leaders) and it was written by Vargas Llosa.

On Twitter, the hashtag #vargasllosa is receiving continuous updates and “Mario Vargas Llosa” has been a worldwide Twitter trending topic for almost 12 hours. Luis Alejo Rojas, (@Quest048) posted:

Y pensar q los peruanos votamos x Fujimori en lugar de Mario Vargas Llosa; 20 años despues uno esta en la carcel y el otro gana el Nobel.
En verdad Vargas Llosa es un trome, hasta para ponerle el nombre a su hija es un capo ( Morgana ) , yo le hubiera puesto juanita nomas.

To think that we Peruvians voted for Fujimori instead of Mario Vargas Llosa; 20 years later one is in prison and the other is awarded the Nobel [Prize].
Really, Vargas Llosa is a “trome” [he rocks], even in naming his daughter he is a “capo” [he is outstanding] (Morgana), I'd just named her Juanita

Walter Meléndez (@amigoperu76) said briefly:

Soy del Perú…de la Tierra de #VargasLlosa……..

I'm from Peru… from #VargasLlosa homeland……..

Ricardo Feregrino (@iRickferegrino) said sarcastically:

Y ahora resulta que TODOS han leído a #VargasLlosa y que su felicidad es genuina.

Now it turns out EVERYBODY has read #VargasLlosa and they are truly happy.

On November 3, Mario Vargas Llosa will publish his most recent novel, El sueño del celta, about the life of Roger Casement. It does not have an English title yet, but it can be translated as The dream of the Celtic.


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