Guatemala, 1954. A CIA-supported military coup topples the government. Behind this violent act is a lie passed off as truth, which forever changed the development of Latin America: that those in power encouraged the spread of Soviet communism in the Americas.
Mario Vargas Llosa has written a drama on a world stage, in which some persecutors end up as victims of the very plot they helped construct. Ironic and sensual, provocative and redemptive, Harsh Times is a story of international conspiracies and conflicting interests in the time of the Cold War, the echoes of which are still felt today.
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.