Peruvian novelist and failed presidential candidate takes literature’s highest honour
The Peruvian writer Maria Vargas Llosa today won the 2010 Nobel prize for literature , crowning a career in which he helped spark the global boom in South American literature, launched a failed presidential bid and maintained a 30-year feud with the man he now joins as a Nobel laureate, Gabriel García Márquez.
Cited by the Swedish Academy for “his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt and defeat”, the 10m SEK (£1m) award is the culmination of a literary life that began in 1963 with the publication of his novel The Time of the Hero, and includes further books such as Conversation in the Cathedral (1969), Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (1977) and The Feast of the Goat (2000).
According to the Uruguayan publisher and journalist, Andreas Campomar, the award is “not before time”.
“It’s something he should have won ages ago,” said Campomar, who described himself as “so chuffed for” the author. “I feared that his time might have passed.” Campomar acknowleged that a political journey which saw the writer move from supporting the regime of Fidel Castro to running for president on a right-wing platform of reform had made him a “polarising figure”, but suggested that the award would be celebrated by many in South America as a way of “putting Latin American literature back on the map”.
“First and foremost, he’s a great man of letters,” he continued. “He has a formidable style, but as with most Latin American writers, at the bottom of all his work, as well as power, and the abuse of power, is the question of cultural identity – what it means to be a European in this Amerindian continent.”
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