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Mario Vargas Llosa

Mario Vargas Llosa is considered one of Latin America´s greatest contemporary writers. Find out more about his life and works.
Mario Vargas Llosa, Nobel Prize in Literature 2010, born in Arequipa, Peru, on March 28, 1936, is considered one of Latin America's greatest contemporary writers. Author of several articles, essays, and plays as well as over 30 novels, his work encompasses various narrative forms: from political novels to comic novels to mythical-political narration. His writings have been translated into over 20 languages. He graduated from the University of San Marcos in Peru with a Literature degree and then obtained a ph.D. in 1959 from the University of Madrid, where he wrote his doctoral dissertation on Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez.

As a writer, journalist, critic, and teacher, he has taught in Kings' College of the University of London, Washington State University (Pullman Campus), the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras, and Columbia University in New York. He was a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center in 1980. He has been the recipient of many literary prizes, among them are the Barral Prix Biblioteca Breve (1962), the Premio de la Crítica Española (1963 and 1966), the Premio Nacional de la Novela, the Premio Internacional de Literatura Rómulo Gallegos (1967), the Premio del Instituto Italo Latinoamericano (Italy, 1982), the Ritz Paris Hemingway Award (1985), the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature, and the Cervantes Prize, and has been appointed Doctor Honoris Causa in several universities worldwide. Vargas Llosa was on the guest list for the 2004 royal wedding of Spanish Prince Felipe of Asturias and Letizia (now Spain's King and Queen).

In 1990, he became the only Peruvian with an international literary reputation to run for President of his country. Llosa wrote about his ultimately unsuccessful attempt at winning the presidency, linking it with his childhood and career, in his work A Fish in the Water: a Memoir (1994), where he talks about the discovery of his calling as a writer as a way to oppose parental authoritarianism. In 1996 he was one of the founding members of the Fundación Hispano Cubana, an organization which aims to maintain, reinforce, and develop the links which have existed for over 500 years between the Cuban and Spanish people. He strongly believes that the Spanish language is expanding to other linguistic latitudes in Britain and the United States.

Despite the devoted audience he enjoys in many languages, his numerous literary prizes, and all the honorary degrees conferred upon him, Vargas Llosa has always felt a constant need to test and retest his creative powers. He sees himself today in full creative mode, and said that if one believes he has already done his best work, one would descend into "decadence," so the healthiest attitude is to keep believing that "the best is yet to come."

"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."

His novels include La ciudad y los perros (1962; The Time of the Hero), La casa verde (1966; The Green House), Conversación en la catedral (1969; Conversation in The Cathedral)Elogio de la madrastra (1990; In Praise of the Stepmother), Lituma en los Andes (1993; Death in the Andes), Los cuadernos de don Rigoberto (1997; The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto), and, most recently, Cinco esquinas (2016; Five Corners).