News / Americas

Peruvian Writer Says His Nobel is Tribute to Latin American Literature

Mario Vargas Llosa (file photo)
Mario Vargas Llosa (file photo)

Peruvian-born writer Mario Vargas Llosa has won the 2010 Nobel Prize for literature, the first Spanish-language winner in more than two decades.

Peter Englund of the Nobel Committee in Stockholm made the announcement Thursday morning, calling the novelist, essayist and playwright a "divinely gifted" storyteller.  He cited Vargas Llosa's "cartography of the structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt and defeat."

Vargas Llosa is the first Latin American writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize in literature since Mexican writer Octavio Paz won in 1990, and the first South-American since Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez received the prize in 1982.

Writer Vargas Llosa, 74, is the author of more than 30 novels, plays and essays, including The Feast of the Goat, Conversations in the Cathedral, and Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter.

He told reporters in New York, where he is living while he teaches Latin American studies at Princeton University, that the award was a tribute not only to his work, but to Latin American literature as a whole.  He said the region existed as a stereotype in the vision of Europeans and Americans when he began writing in the 1960s.

"I think it's interesting how Latin America literature, when I was young, when I started to write, was practically ignored by the rest of the world," he said. "Latin America seemed to be a land in which there were only dictators, revolutionaries, catastrophes. Well, now we know that Latin America can produce also artists, musicians, painters, thinkers and novelists."

Vargas Llosa has always been politically engaged as a writer and as a citizen. "I have always [been] very critical of all kinds of dictatorships, dictatorships from the left, dictatorships from the right," he said. "I have criticized and I still criticize the Cuban dictatorship, as I criticized the Chilean dictatorship in the times of Pinochet.  I defend democracy, I defend liberal reforms -- I think this is the road to progress, to civilization."

After turning from left-wing politics to a free-market convservatism, he ran unsuccessfully for president of Peru in 1990, losing to Alberto Fujimori, who was later convicted of human rights abuses.  Vargas Llosa moved to Spain after the election, not returning to his native land for seven years.

Former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo also happened to be in New York during the announcement and attended his friend's news conference at the Cervantes Instiitute.

"Mario Vargas Llosa is, a defender of freedom and democracy in the world, particularly in Latin American," Toledo said. "And although Mario Vargas Llosa is as Peruvian as a Pisco Sour [a Peruvian cocktail], he also belongs to the world. And this recognition, that is what it does."

Vargas Llosa still lives part-time in Spain, where he writes an influential column for El Pais, a Spanish-language daily newspaper in Madrid.  He says that politics must be part of literature -- as it is part of life --- but that it is secondary when he writes.

"I am basically a writer, and I would like to be remembered, if I am remembered, because of my writing and because of my work. On the other hand, I am also a citizen, and I have political ideas, which I think is a moral obligation of everybody, not only of writers," he said, adding, "I don't know if these ideas impregnate, really, my literary work. That is difficult for me to say. When I write literature, I think politics, political ideas, ideology, is always secondary. I think literature [embraces] a larger horizon of human experience."

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Mexico Captures Wanted Drug Kingpin Hector Beltran Leyva

Beltran Leyva is one of four brothers who allegedly headed a vicious Mexican drug cartel after it split with the Sinaloa cartel
More

Mother Says Former US Marine Needs Treatment, Not Mexican Prison

Jill Tahmooressi said son Andrew, 26, has been threatened by prison guards with rape, torture and execution since his arrest in March
More

Rio 2016 Olympics Progress Impressive, Says IOC in Change of Tone

Assessment, in stark contrast to ‘worst’ ever remark made by one committee member, comes after latest site inspection
More

Mexican Soldiers Face Murder Charges in 22 Deaths

Three soldiers charged with homicide in death of 22 suspected drug gang members who prosecutors allege were executed
More

Poll: Record Number of Mexicans Crime Victims in 2013

While government data shows murder rate has fallen in past 2 years, crimes such as kidnapping and extortion, which affect wider swath of the population, rise
More

OAS Asks Members to Take In Guantanamo Detainees

Organization of American States issues appeal for member countries to take in detainees from US military prison
More