Mario Vargas Llosa: Fiction and hyper-reality

1960s: Days of Rage

“When Mario Vargas Llosa, the precocious star of the 1960s ‘boom’ in Latin American fiction, ran for president in 1990 in his native Peru, many of his most avid readers prayed he would lose. As his friend, the Cuban writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante, observed: ‘Peru’s uncertain gain would be literature’s loss. Literature is eternity, politics mere history.’  That may have been scant consolation to the vanquished Vargas Llosa when the dark-horse victor, Alberto Fujimori, seized dictatorial powers in 1992 and fell only in 2000 in one of the most bizarre corruption scandals in Latin American history. But for the nearly man, who maintains that he lost the election largely for telling the truth, his candidacy was a ‘terrible mistake’ which he does not regret. ‘It was a very instructive experience, though not pleasant,’ he smiles stiffly. ‘I learned a lot about Peru, about politics and about myself: I learned…

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