Vargas Llosa, Mario [key], 1936–, Peruvian novelist and politician, b. Arequipa. Although his works contain much external realism, emphasizing the ugly and grotesque, he also often explores the minds of his characters, overcoming barriers of time and space. In his fiction, Vargas Llosa paints a portrait of Peruvian society that is both severe and tender, and explores the meeting of Latin American culture and politics. His recurring themes include humanity's desire for freedom and the freedom that is found in art. His novels include The Time of the Hero (1962; tr. 1966), The Green House (1966; tr. 1968), Conversation in the Cathedral (1969; tr. 1975), the comic Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (1977; tr. 1982), the epic The War of the End of the World (1981; tr. 1982), Death in the Andes (1993; tr. 1996), The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto (1997, tr. 1998), The Feast of the Goat (2000, tr. 2001), The Discreet Hero (2013, tr. 2015), and The Neighborhood (2016, tr. 2018). He also has written criticism, including The Perpetual Orgy: Flaubert and Madame Bovary (1975; tr. 1986) and Writer's Reality (1991); essays, such as those in Making Waves (1996), Sabers and Utopias: Visions of Latin America (2009, tr. 2018), and Notes on the Death of Culture (2011, tr. 2015); and a newspaper column carried by many Latin American newspapers. A political conservative, Vargas Llosa was an unsuccessful candidate for Peruvian president in 1990. After winning the first round, he lost to Alberto Fujimori. Vargas-Llosa described the vagaries of his campaign in A Fish in the Water: A Memoir (1993, tr. 1994). In 2010 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
See studies by S. Castro-Klaren and R. A. Kerr (both: 1990); collection of critical essays ed. by C. Rossman and A. Friedman (1978).
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