Mario Vargas Llosa nabs Nobel, nobody nabs my book

October 7, 2010 • 5:30 am

The readers have again drawn a blank in our guess-the-Nobel contest, as Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa (b. 1936), whom nobody named, just nabbed the Literature prize.  Curiously, a friend in Boston just recommended him to me as the best modern writer from Latin America.  I confess that I haven’t read him.

I was kind of hoping that Salman Rushdie would take it, for he surely deserves it—and it would really tick off his religious opponents.  My American wild-card favorite was Cormac McCarthy, but I don’t think he’ll see the Prize in his lifetime. (He also deserves it.)

17 thoughts on “Mario Vargas Llosa nabs Nobel, nobody nabs my book

  1. OK – must now read some Vargas Llosa. Anyone have special recommendations? “War At The End Of The World” looks quite interesting.

  2. Well, if you’ve got a copy going free, would you like to give it to me? In the UK, it’s the National Day of Poetry.

    Wrote this ages ago:

    And yet it does move
    Galileo did not say
    But it makes my point

    Three observations
    And the two deductions
    Darwin’s Magnum Opus

    For he observed that
    Species over reproduce
    Observation one

    Despite this he saw
    Population stays stable
    Observation two

    Therefore there is a
    Survival competition
    His first deduction

    Last observation
    Individuals unique
    Each is different

    Those differences
    They influence survival
    The best are passed on

    Evidence profound
    ATP universal
    DNA in all

    Fossils abundant
    Tiktaalik “transitional”
    Tetrapod almost

    And so you can see
    Noodly appendage absent
    Heresy, I know

  3. A posteriori an obvious candidate as well. For an extremely fun and imaginative book see ‘Aunt Julia and the scriptwriter’; for a major work, ‘Conversation in the Cathedral’.

  4. Fantastic news–up until now, he was perhaps the greatest living writer without a Nobel. In addition to the books recommended above, I’d suggest (in Spanish, if you can, but the English translations of his work are worthwhile too) The Time of the Hero, The Green House, Captain Pantoja and the Special Service, and Death in the Andes.

    A few I haven’t read that are on my list: The War of the End of the World, The Feast of the Goats, and The Bad Girl.

  5. … but I don’t think he’ll see the Prize in his lifetime.

    Well I don’t think he’ll see the prize after his lifetime, as the Nobel is never given posthumously.

  6. Llosa’s work stands extremely tall next to nearly every writer we guessed. It’s nice that the prize will bring more readers to his art.

    I’ve never read anything of his that wasn’t terrific.

  7. On my personal Noble prize list Llosa was no. 1. Now Salman Rushdie took the honour.
    Llosa’s novels are terrific. I liked “Captain Pantoja and the Special Service” and “The Time of the Hero”. BTW, English titles are so weird!

  8. I would love to see Salman Rushdie get it…but I think it’s pretty unlikely any time soon. I’m afraid the Nobel committee will be too squeamish about putative “Islamophobia” for that, at least unless/until the political climate changes.

  9. Reason has a short piece up praising Vargas Llosa. Vargas Llosa is the author to read in contrast to Garcia Marquez. Vargas Llosa has been a scathing critic of authoritarianisms of the left and the right, while Garcia Marquez (a great novelist to be sure), has been an abject admirer of left wing dictators, esp. Castro.

    Jerry: the best one to read is ‘The War of the End of the World’

    here’s an essay by him:

  10. As a latin american I’m so happy to see Vargas Llosa win the Nobel prize. He’s a very good writer. He has a great history telling style.

  11. Cormac McC: I was impressed by the early novels, and kept on with him, despite some doubts, up until the third in the All the Pretty Horses trilogy which read like a peculiar and bad parody of McCarthy’s own style, with the influences – Faulkner, Hemingway – all too obvious: it read like someone trying to write in what he thought was a quintessentially American style: it was also sentimental and portentous, and the final knife fight was wholly unbelievable and, really, risible. Perhaps I should try again, but I though the book was so bad that I lost interest in his work.

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