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Posts Tagged ‘Peru’

Dispatch from Stockholm: The Ceremony

December 15, 2010 | by

Photograph courtesy of Scanpix Sweden.

Mario Vargas Llosa enters his hotel after receiving the Nobel Prize. He’s left behind the post-prize official banquet, the pomp and ceremony of a dinner with the Swedish royal family and their 1,300 guests from all over the world. He’s tired but has the glow of an epic hero surveying his many accomplishments. A few friends and family are waiting at the Grand Hôtel, those who weren’t among the fourteen guests each Nobel Prize winner is entitled to invite to the dinner. Vargas Llosa walks through the hall, toward these familiar faces, and asks with real sincerity, “It came out nicely, didn’t it?”

As he receives handshakes, applause, hugs, congratulations, praise, photos, and a burst of answers to his question, he takes a handkerchief from his pocket and blows his nose—he’s finally come home.

He’s won a Nobel, but he’s the same—that appears to be the consensus among those who surround him. Vargas Llosa is hoarse, tired, and would like to change out of his tuxedo. So he spends no more than three minutes in the lobby, before saying good-bye to each of those who were waiting for him, as if it were all very ordinary. The winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature goes off to sleep to a round of applause. His friends and family stay awhile longer, to celebrate in his name.

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Dispatch from Stockholm

December 8, 2010 | by

Mario Vargas Llosa photographed earlier this year, after the Nobel Prize announcement. For most people, Vilela writes, winning the Nobel is like being canonized.

When Mario Vargas Llosa got the call, his first thought was that it was an emergency of some kind. It was around five in the morning in New York, the same hour as in Lima, where most of his family lives—which is why he was alarmed. He’d risen a few moments earlier and, at that hour when the city sleeps, was sitting down to read. It was part of his routine while he was teaching at Princeton for a semester. His wife, Patricia, handed him the phone, and a voice said it was the Swedish Academy. Vargas Llosa first thought it might be a joke, like the one the heartless friends of the Italian writer Alberto Moravia had pulled on him: They awarded him the Nobel in jest, with a call just like this one. And Moravia celebrated, as if he’d actually won. Vargas Llosa hesitated. The voice assured him he had actually won the 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature, and then the call ended. Those were strange moments—a controlled euphoria, a surprising well of emotion, skepticism. The phone rang again, and the same voice announced that the news would be made official in fourteen minutes, that he should be prepared.

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Mario Vargas Llosa Wins the Nobel

October 7, 2010 | by

Photograph by Sophie Bassouls.

The Nobel Prize committee announced this morning that Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa has won the 2010 award for literature, praising him “for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat.”

In the fall of 1990, The Paris Review published an astonishing interview with Vargas Llosa. Then a friend to both Neruda and García Márquez, he expressed an abiding belief in the need for a literature that dissolves politics into its narrative fabric and offers imaginative solutions to economic and social problems. Writers, Vargas Llosa felt, should not seek to distance themselves from the political sphere:

I think it’s crucial that writers show—because like all artists, they sense this more strongly than anyone—the importance of freedom for the society as well as for the individual. Justice, which we all wish to rule, should never become disassociated from freedom; and we must never accept the notion that freedom should at certain times be sacrificed in the name of social justice or national security, as totalitarians from the extreme left and reactionaries from the extreme right would have us do. Writers know this because every day they sense the degree to which freedom is necessary for creation, for life itself.

Hardly imagining, as an adolescent, that he would be able to devote himself to writing full time—“too much of a luxury for a Latin American,” he explained, “especially a Peruvian”—Vargas Llosa planned to pursue a career in law or journalism. We’re grateful that he reconsidered.

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