Mario Vargas Llosa wins Nobel Prize

That's for literature, sadly he never had the chance to win a prize for economics, as his political career as a Peruvian classical liberal was cut short by electoral defeat.  He has many fine books but I have two particular favorites: The War of the End of the World (serious and epic, concerning a millenarian revolt in Brazil) and Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (a fun story and spoof of telenovela culture).  Conversation in the Cathedral is sometimes considered a classic but I find it unreadable.  I suspect his early The Green House will resonate more with Latin Americans.  His last major novel, The Bad Girl, was entertaining but not entirely satisfying and it reminded me a bit too much of an older man writing about sex.  The Feast of the Goat is a very good study of political power.  Here are previous MR mentions of Mario Vargas Llosa.

Here is Wikipedia on Vargas Llosa.  Alex has done a good bit of work with Alvaro Vargas Llosa, son of Mario and a prominent writer on classical liberal themes, and perhaps he will relate some of that to us.


"Pantaleón y las Visitadoras" is fun and full of mild sarcasm.

Tia Julia is one of my all-time favorites. The translation to English didn't go perfectly, though.

Great news, I had thought his politics would exclude him forever. Disagree about Conversation in the Cathedral which I thought whizzed along, although I couldn't manage Ciudad de los Perros. Panteleone is very funny.

What is not well known about the Nobel Prize for literature is that the criteria is "the most outstanding work in an ideal direction". Its not for best author or author with the most literary merit as many assume. That is why the record of the prize is so spotty if you expect it to go to the best author.

So we have a Nobel Prize for economics that really isn't a Nobel, and a Nobel Prize for literature that is not supposed to be for great literature.

But Vargas Llosa is an excellent writer anyway.

Nuts, the prediction markets predicted he would win the Noble Laureate in Economics.

G d argentines. They always find a way to f*ck it up

Tyler, I strongly disagree with you about The Bad Girl. It was NOT entertaining. Too much about sex and not enough about getting old. The kind of book you write when you've almost given up hope of winning the Nobel Prize. However Conversation in the Cathedral is an absolutely brilliant novel in my opinion. 

If Varga Llosa were to win the economics Nobel, not a completely absurd idea, it would be for A Fish In The Water. This is also a superb book. A Fish In The Water, Conversation in the Cathedral, along with a smattering of his minor police and political thrillers, add up to the best possible analyses of Peruvian political society that can be found. And perhaps even of late twentieth century ideologies. 

A Fish in the Water is quite Hayekian in outlook. Actually I tended to support the highly flawed but effective Fujimori who was the democratic rival of Vargas Llosa. The so far untold story is that Fujimori must have read Conversation in the Cathedral rather too closely in his pre-candidature days, because the book could be about the flawed Fujimori rather than about Odria.      

Strangely enough though it was Fujimori who implemented various of the central planks of Vargas Llosa's economic policies (don't let Alvaro tell you otherwise, only the other day The Economist noted in a survey of Latin America the enduring achievements of Fujimori's market competition policies).  

Bel, the war on terrorism in Peru was launched by previous Peruvian governments, a whole series of them in fact. The difference is that Fujimori finally put an end to that war (almost). His methods, which you may not like, were hardly worse than the methods of the earlier governments. His mala suerte was to conduct the operations in a different kind of geopolitical climate, and his foolishness was to think that the reliance on a covert Montesinos character similar to the one portrayed by Vargas Llosa in Conversation in the Cathedral could be tolerated or acceptable in the 1990s. Fujimori faced a racist and corrupt Peruvian political establishment on assuming his popular mandate. His methods were not always wonderful. But he won more or less clean elections with huge majorities. For countless reasons it is absurd to compare him with Chavez.

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