Some may not have heard of him, but 74-year-old Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa has repeatedly been hailed one of South America’s most influential writers. Throughout his career, which has spanned five decades, he has been known as an essayist, novelist, journalist and even a politician. His most famous works include the novels Conversation in the Cathedral and The Green House, both ambitious analyses of the roots of corruption Peru’s politics and society.
Vargas Llosa is, like many South American writers of his generation, actively political, although his views have changed markedly during the course of his life. He was initially a supporter of the Cuban revolutionary government of Fidel Castro, but later became disenchanted, eventually running for the Peruvian presidency in 1990 with the center-right Frente Democrático (FREDEMO) coalition.
Vargas Llosa is the first South American winner of the prestigious Nobel Prize in literature since it was awarded to Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez in 1982.