An intellectual autobiography of Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa.
The difference between this autobiography and others like El pez en el agua /A Fish in the Water is that this book's leading role is not necessarily the author's experiences, but rather the literature that shaped his way of thinking and his way of seeing the world in the last fifty years.
The Peruvian Nobel laureate creates a roadmap of the liberal thinkers that helped him develop a new set of ideas after the great ideological disappointment that was, on the one hand, his disenchantment with the Cuban Revolution and, on the other, a distancing of sorts from an author who had greatly inspired him in his youth, Jean-Paul Sartre.
The authors which he analyzes are Adam Smith, Jose Ortega y Gasset, Friedrich Hayek, Karl Popper, Raymond Aron, Isaiah Berlin and Jean-Fraçois Revel, who were of great help during those disconcerting years, showing him a new train of thought which gave the individual more power than the "tribe", the nation, the class or the party, and that defended freedom of expression as a fundamental value for democracy.
Spanish-peruvian writer Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa, is regarded as one of the creators (along with such writers as Julio Cortázar, Gabriel García Márquez, and Carlos Fuentes) of the new Latin American novel. He is a brilliant writer, seeming to understand human weakness to the core. In this novel he manages to build a pace of development which resembles a literary version of Bolero which simply explodes in the last 25 pages.
Vargas Llosa isrecipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature. Some critics consider him to have had a larger international impact and worldwide audience than any other writer of the Latin American Boom. Upon announcing the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature, the Swedish Academy said it had been given to Vargas Llosa "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat".
Vargas Llosa rose to fame in the 1960s with novels such as The Time of the Hero (La ciudad y los perros, literally The City and the Dogs), The Green House (La casa verde), and the monumental Conversation in the Cathedral (Conversación en la catedral). He writes prolifically across an array of literary genres, including literary criticism and journalism. His novels include comedies, murder mysteries, historical novels, and political thrillers. Several, such as Captain Pantoja and the Special Service and Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, have been adapted as feature films.
He is the person who, in 1990, "coined the phrase that circled the globe", declaring on Mexican television, "Mexico is the perfect dictatorship", a statement which became an adage during the following decade.
Many of Vargas Llosa's works are influenced by the writer's perception of Peruvian society and his own experiences as a native Peruvian. Increasingly, however, he has expanded his range, and tackled themes that arise from other parts of the world. Another change over the course of his career has been a shift from a style and approach associated with literary modernism, to a sometimes playful postmodernism.
Like many Latin American authors, Vargas Llosa has been politically active throughout his career; over the course of his life, he has gradually moved from the political left towards liberalism or neoliberalism, a definitively more conservative political position. While he initially supported the Cuban revolutionary government of Fidel Castro, Vargas Llosa later became disenchanted with the Cuban dictator and his authoritarian regime.