Thursday, October 07, 2010

Mario Vargas Llosa Awarded Nobel Prize

Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa (Death in the Andes, The Feast of the Goat) today became only the second South American author in history to be awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature. From The New York Times:
Announcing the award in Stockholm, the Swedish Academy praised Mr. Vargas Llosa “for his cartography of the structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt and defeat.”

Mr. Vargas Llosa, 74, is one of the most celebrated writers of the Spanish-speaking world, frequently mentioned with his contemporary Gabriel García Márquez, who won the literature Nobel in 1982, the last South American to do so. He has written more than 30 novels, plays and essays, inc
luding “The Feast of the Goat” and “The War of the End of the World.”
Vargas Llosa had not been among the favorites for this year’s prize. Earlier this month, the U.K. bookmaker, Ladbrokes, had the author down as a 45-1 shot and an October 6 article in OpenSalon on Nobel odds didn't even mention the winning author, instead discussing favorites Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men), Haruki Murakami (Kafka on the Shore), Joyce Carol Oates (We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde) and many, many others. But not Mario Vargas Llosa who many considered to be too political to be considered for the win.

The Wall Street Journal took Vargas Llosa’s win as the chance to point out that this is the only case in which two Nobel laureates have come to blows:
It’s not too often that a future winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature has decked another soon-to-be Nobel laureate, leaving him bleeding and with a black-eye at a red carpet event. That’s exactly what happened three decades ago between Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature on Thursday, and Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez, who won the Nobel in 1982.
It happened at a movie premiere in Mexico City in 1976, long before either author had added the word “laureate” to their CV. But though we know when it happened, no one -- other than the two literary heavyweights themselves, presumably -- know exactly why.
The two authors have never discussed the scuffle publicly, sparking endless speculation about the motives behind Vargas Llosa’s attack. By most accounts, however, it was not politics that ended their friendship, but matters of the heart involving a woman. That’s explanation that biographers of García Márquez find more plausible.

Whatever the cause, the incident ended the close friendship between two heavyweights of Latin American letters. The two are believed to have never exchanged a word since then.
Heidi Johnson-Wright interviewed Mario Vargas Llosa for January Magazine in 2002. That article is here.



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