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Author Llosa's Book Reviews

A Fish in the Water
Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa tells the story of his life since he was 10 years old, when he found out his father was not dead as he was told, until he makes his teenage dream come true, at age 22: he's given a scholarship in a university of Madrid (then he could move to Paris anytime he wanted). The recount of his life in the cities of Cochabamba (Bolivia), Piura and Lima (Peru), however, are the core of this memoirs, as he's generous in detail...
Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter
Mario, a 19-year old Law-student working in a radio station, falls in love with his aunt-in-law, Julia Urquidi. She thinks Mario is a child and calls him 'Varguitas' but soon he proves to her he's a young man already, with great ambitions of becoming a novelist in Paris. They end up in love, and issues arouse when relatives become known of this. They flee to an unknown town intending to be married. Meanwhile, Mario finds a friend in Pedro Camacho, a...
Captain Pantoja and the Special Service
Pantaleon Pantoja has just been ascended to Captain of the Peruvian Army. But the mission to which he's sent is preposterous at first sight: he must organize a prostitute service to satisfy the sexual needs of the military men doing service in the garrisons of the jungle of Peru, since many of them have been raping the women surrounding the area. Pantaleon does so, but so efficiently that the neighbors around the headquarters want to share the prostitute...
Conversation in The Cathedral
The dictatorship of Manuel Odria (1948-1956) has devastated the society of Peru in all its branches, politics, journalism, culture. In the mid fifties, a high-class college student, Santiago Zavala, believes in freedom of expression and, with other partners, rebels against the government, publishing revolutionary papers while studying books on Marxism and Communism. Soon after, however, Santiago notices his actions don't harm their enemy at all and ...

Llosa booklist

In Praise of the Stepmother
Lucrecia is recently married to Rigoberto, and she's getting to know Fonchito, Rigoberto's son from a previous marriage. High sexual tension arises between stepmother and stepson as Fonchito becomes too fond of her new caretaker, constantly looking for tight hugs and kisses. They have sexual encounters from that moment on, hiding the secret from Rigoberto. But the situation turns unstable when Fonchito goes further in his sexual entertainment and writes ...
The Feast of the Goat
In 1996, 49-year-old Urania Cabral returns to her native Dominican Republic from New York after 35 years of exile. She escaped in 1961 at the age of 14, shortly after her father's fall from grace with the government of dictator Trujillo, and two weeks before the Generalissimo himself was assassinated. Vargas Llosa weaves together the narratives of Urania's confrontation with her now-vegetable father, the pre-attack activities of the assassins in 1961 and...
The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto
By day, Rigoberto is a regular kind of man working in an insurance company. By night, he writes notebooks of thoughts and fantasies, about the people, books and paintings he either love or hate. Writing fulfills his day as much as his daily job allows him a decent living. However, he hasn't recovered from the day he kicked his second wife Lucrecia out of home, when he found she had sexual relations with his son Fonchito. Fonchito was half-responsi...
The Storyteller
Mario Vargas Llosa, himself the main character of this novel, writes about a friend he knew in college, Saul Zuratas, who was a passionate student of a tribe in the Amazonas jungle, the Machiguengas. The strong relationship they both had has desintegrated thirty years later, but when Mario is visiting a Machiguenga photo exposition in Florence, he finds a character in one of them which seems too familiar: a white man telling stories to other machiguengas...
The War of the End of the World
In the lands of Canudos, Antonio the Counselor is a mysterious mesianic figure who recruits outcasts to fight against the Republic of Brazil. The Counselor predicts there will be three battles in this war, and the third will mark their defeat. Characters in the Counselor's and the Republic's side are vastly depicted, and the theme of the story becomes not much about the horrors of war as the fatal consequences of misunderstanding and religious fanati...
The Way to Paradise
The story follows the life of 19th feminist-socialist Flora Tristan in her quest to persuade working people of Europe to create a working union, doing so by speaking idealistic speeches and writing revolutionary books. This tour --through cities of France and Spain, mostly--leads to flashbacks in the narrative which show her past life as an abused wife, outcast daughter and apprentice of the utopian ideas of her time. Flora's story is interwoven wit...


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