Happy Birthday, Mario Vargas Llosa!

Mario Vargas Llosa was born 76 years ago today in Arequipa, Peru. He is one of only a dozen Latinos to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, which he received two years ago.

He is known – along with Mexican Carlos Fuentes and his rival, Colombian Gabriel García Márquez – for the Latin American boom in literature in the 1960s. Here’s a terrific article from The New York Times when he won the Nobel.

Politics remain a central theme in his works and his life – 1963’s Time of the Hero, which was burned by Peruvian soldiers because of its depiction of military schools; 1975’s Conversation in the Cathedral, describes life under 1950s Peru while dictator Manuel A. Odría rules the country; Death in the Andes, released in 1993, is a haunting tale about the disappearance of men in Peru; and 2000’s The Feast of the Goat, covers time in the Dominican Republic under Rafael Trujillo’s regime. Vargas Llosa ran unsuccessfully for president of Peru in 1990.

But Vargas Llosa isn’t always serious: 1982’s Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter is a comic novel about the title character’s affair with her nephew.

His next book, The Dream of the Celt, about Irish human rights activist Roger Casement, is scheduled to come out in June.

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