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Culture

Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa wins literature Nobel

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-10-07

Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa, 74, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday, the Swedish Academy announced.

Mario Varga Llosa was not expected to win the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature. Despite his enormous stature and reputation as a writer, he was not the bookies’ favourite and literary critics did not anticipate his nomination.

The 74-year-old author is the first South American to win the Nobel since the Colombian Gabriel Garcia Marquez won it in 1982.

The two have long been rivals and after the announcement Thursday, Marquez tweeted: “cuentas iguales” – “now we’re even” in Spanish.

Llosa was born in Peru, a country that is the backdrop of most of his early writings, but he took Spanish nationality in 1993 (after a failed bid to become Peruvian president). He has lived in London and cited his experience living and working as a journalist in Paris in the 1960s as formative to his writing career.

“You could consider him to be a European, rather than a Latin American writer,” says FRANCE 24 literary editor Augustin Trapenard. “He’s even said that Paris is the Latin American capital.”

Llosa was awarded the Nobel Prize for a body of work which includes historical novels, erotic romances, crime novellas, light-hearted comedies, plays, memoirs, and academic essays.

His literary trademarks include graphic descriptions of murders, rapes and other acts of violence, which perhaps hark back to his early days as a crime reporter for the Lima tabloid La Cronica.

Born March 28, 1936, in the southern Peruvian city of Arequipa, Llosa grew up in Bolivia, northern Peru, and in the capital Lima.

At 14, he enrolled at the Leoncio Prado Military Academy, which was the setting of his first novel, "The Time of the Hero" (1962).

In 1955, at the age of 19, he married his aunt Julia Urquidi, who was 13 years his senior.

The scandalous marriage lasted nine years and was the subject of his 1977 novel "Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter."

Llosa used his experience as a crime reporter to get a job as a journalist for AFP and for Radio Television Française in Paris in 1959.

In 1965 he married his cousin Patricia Llosa and the couple had three children.

Llosa's early novels include "The Green House" (1966), "Conversation in the Cathedral" (1969), and "Pantaleon and the Visitors" (1973), which were all set in Peru.

His later works strayed further afield, with books such as "The War of the End of the World" (1981) set in late 19th century Brazil, and "The Feast of the Goat" (2000), which deals with the mid-20th century dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic.

More recent novels include "The Way to Paradise" (2003) on impressionist painter Paul Gaugin and his grandmother, feminist Flora Tristan.

His next novel, due out in Spanish next month, is "The Dream of the Celt," about atrocities and abuses committed in the Belgian Congo in the early 20th century.

Date created : 2010-10-07

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