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, and the Premio Internacional de Literatura Rómulo Gallegos (1967), the Premio del Instituto Italo Latinoamericano (Italy, 1982), the Ritz Paris Hemingway Award (1985), and the winner of the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature and the Cervantes Prize as well as being appointed Doctor Honoris Causa in several universities worldwide. Vargas Llosa was on the attendee guest list for the royal wedding of Spanish Prince Felipe of Asturias and Letizia in 2004.
In 1990, he was the only Peruvian with an international literary reputation to run for President of his country - eventually losing. Llosa gives his account of his ultimately unsuccessful attempt at achieving presidency, of his childhood and career in his novel 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, reinforces 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 and is found in other linguistic latitudes such as 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 cathedral (1969; Conversation in The Cathedral), Elegio 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 Travesuras de la niña mala (2006; The Bad Girl).