Thank you for believing in your dreams!
You are our inspiration!
These are just a few phrases that express the happiness of the people from Arequipa, birth place of the literature nobel prize Mario Vargas Llosa.
One of his favorite places in Arequipa is Colca Canyon and the andean condor is one of his favorite birds. One of his good friends in Colca Valley was the american nun Madre Antonia who lived in Yanque village,a person whose sweetness cautivated Mario Vargas Llosa.
Madre Antonia is gone now, she passed away last year, but we know she is very happy that at the end, his friend, Mario Vargas Llosa made his dreams come true.
Congratulations once more again Mario Vargas Llosa!
Receive the greetings of all the people from Colca Valley and Colca Canyon.
The Colca Specialist
The Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, whose deeply political work vividly examines the perils of power and corruption in Latin America, won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday.
A brief and unsuccessful effort to officially enter the political arena came later. While Peru was besieged by high inflation and the attacks by the Maoists of the Shining Path in 1990, Mr. Vargas Llosa made a quixotic run for the presidency, opposing Alberto Fujimori, then a little-known agronomist.
Mr. Vargas Llosa was ahead in polls for much of his campaign, but some factors may have worked against him: his aristocratic bearing in impoverished Peru and his acknowledgment that in the largely Roman Catholic country, he was an agnostic.
Mr. Fujimori triumphed, and the failed bid left Mr. Vargas Llosa with a sour taste for politics in his country.
Afterward, Mr. Vargas Llosa’s influence in the Spanish-speaking world became more widespread through his column for El País, the Spanish daily newspaper in Madrid. The column, “Piedra de Toque,” or “Touchstone,” is distributed in newspapers throughout Latin America and explores themes including literature, travel and the politics of the Middle East and Latin America.
The previous Nobel laureate of the “boom generation,” Mr. García Márquez of Colombia, won after wide acclaim for his masterpiece, “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” In a twist worthy of one of Mr. Vargas Llosa’s subplots, Mr. García Márquez and Mr. Vargas Llosa, at one point close friends, had a violent falling out in 1976 in Mexico City, which they have yet to patch up.
The episode unfolded at a film premiere. When Mr. García Márquez approached Mr. Vargas Llosa to embrace him, the Peruvian writer instead punched him in the face, giving him a black eye,
Confusion over the enigmatic feud persisted on Thursday, after news of a Twitter message attributed to Mr. García Márquez — which read, “Now we’re even” — made the rounds in literary circles across Latin America. Mr. García Márquez’s foundation in Colombia later tried to clear things up by saying the Twitter message was not authentic.
In any case, Álvaro Mutis, a Colombian writer who lives in Mexico City and is a friend of both men, told the EFE news agency that a reconciliation between the two heavyweights of Latin literature, after 34 years of rancor, was probably not going to happen.
The news that Mr. Vargas Llosa had won the prize reached him early on Thursday morning, when he was working in his apartment in Manhattan, preparing to set out on a walk through Central Park, he told a radio station in Peru. Initially, he thought it was a prank.
“It was a grand surprise,” he said. “It’s a good way to start a New York day.”
Mario Vargas Llosa's speech at the Nobel Banquet, 10 December 2010
I am a storyteller, so before I propose a toast I will tell you a story.
Once upon a time, there was a boy who learned to read at the age of five. This changed his life. Owing to the adventure tales he read, he discovered a way to escape from the poor house, the poor country and the poor reality in which he lived, and to journey to wonderful, mesmerizing places peopled with the most beautiful beings and the most surprising things, where every day and every night brought a more intense, more thrilling more unusual form of bliss.
He so enjoyed reading stories that one day this boy, who was now a young man, took to making them up himself and writing them. He had a hard time doing it, but it brought him pleasure and he delighted in writing tales as much as he delighted in reading them.
The character in my story, however, was very aware that the real world was one thing and the fancy world of dreams and literature quite another, and that the latter only came to light when he read and wrote stories. The rest of the time, it vanished.
Until one day, in the wee hours of the morning, the protagonist of my story received a mysterious call in which a gentleman with a name that defied all pronunciation announced to him that he had won a prize and that in order to receive it he would have to travel to a place called Stockholm, the capital of a land called Sweden (or something of the sort).
To his total bewilderment, my character then started to experience in real life one of those stories that until then he had only found in the unreal and ideal realm of literature. He suddenly felt like the pauper must have felt when he was confused with the prince in Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper. He is still there, quite startled, not knowing whether he is dreaming or fully awake, whether what is happening is for real or a lie, whether what is occurring is life or literature, because the border that separates the two seems to have totally vanished.
Dear friends, now I can propose the toast I had promised. Let us toast to Sweden, that strange kingdom that seems to have performed, for a privileged few, the miracle of turning life into literature and literature into life.
Cheers (skål) and thank you very much!
The Nobel Foundation 2010
"I am honored and recompensed for something that has been a recompense in itself ..."
Telephone interview with Mario Vargas Llosa following the announcement of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature, 7 October 2010. The interviewer is Adam Smith, Editor-in-Chief of Nobelprize.org.
[Mario Vargas Llosa] Hello?
[Adam Smith] Oh, hello, is that Mario Vargas Llosa?
[MVL] Yes, speaking?
[AS] Oh, hello, my name is Adam Smith. I'm calling from the Nobel Prize website in Stockholm. My congratulations on the news of the award.
[MVL] Well, so, is it true then? Ha ha!
[AS] Ha, ha! It most certainly ...
[MVL] Because, I received a call from the Secretary General of the Academy, and I was wonder if it was true or joke of a friend!
[AS] Well, I can confirm that it has just been announced to the public in Stockholm.
[MVL] Ah, it has already been announced. Well, I'm deeply moved and grateful! It's been a great surprise! Well, I don't know what to say ... I feel overwhelmed, really!
[AS] That's a nice thing to say! You've been tipped for some years, so ... what does it mean to be awarded the Prize, do you know?
[MVL] Well, I know but I still don't believe it, you know? I need to read it in the papers.
[AS] Of course, yes. Once it's in literature, then it's real. We have a ...
[MVL] I feel very moved and it's a fantastic encouragement. And, frankly, I didn't expect it, you know! I never knew that it was true that my name was among the possible candidates and ... But, anyway, it's a fantastic event and I feel very surprised, you know! Very surprised.
Writing has been such a fantastic pleasure for me all my life, that I cannot believe that I am honored and recompensed for something that has been a recompense in itself, you know? Anyway, please ...
[AS] My sincere congratulations ...
[MVL] Anyway, please convey my gratitude to all the members of the Academy.
[AS] Of course, may I ... keep you on the phone for just a couple of minutes because we like to record a very brief telephone interview?
[MVL] Yes, of course.
[AS] Thank you. Ok, so I gather you're in Princeton at the moment, teaching?
[MVL] I am in New York, but teaching in Princeton. I spend Monday and Tuesdays teaching, but I am living in New York until December.
[AS] Ok. And, you live in many different places. You're Peruvian ...
[MVL] I live in, well, in Lima [phone line drops out], and Madrid. But mostly between Lima and Madrid.
[AS] And, I was going to ask: does it change the way you write, where you're living? Because it, in some ...
[MVL] Oh, I don't think so. I don't think so. I ... no ... I, well, I write about different places of course but, ah, I'm not ... Sometimes I move because I am writing about a certain place. But, I don't think the environment change very much the idea that I have of a story ... But, maybe, maybe, yes... but not in a very conscious way? Maybe unconsciously, yes, I am impregnated by the place in which I am. I, I don't [phone line drops out] know.
[AS] What about language? Because, of the ...
[MVL] The language, I am convinced that the fact of living in a foreign, let's say, language, enriches very much the relationship that I have with Spanish. I think that I have understood better my own language in this constant confrontation – of the Spanish with the English, with the French, with the German. Ah, I think you become much more conscious of the nuances that each language has to express the same idea, same feelings. I think in this [phone line drops out] my relationship with my own language has been much, much more rich because I have lived in countries where the Spanish language was not a national language, you see.
[AS] And, you write in a very large number of forms - and unusually large number of forms - why is that so?
[MVL] Well, I write novels, and ah ... But, I think I am a writer of fiction, you know, because I write plays also, or short stories. But, ah, I don't believe that the different literary genres change the vision, the beliefs ... the feelings that I try to express in my stories.
But, I think certain stories expressed or represented in a play, than in a novel, or in a short story that in another [phone line drops out] . In other stories, of course, I think that the novel is the ideal way to tell them, no?
[AS] Yes. And, may I ask about your interest in politics? You say that you entered politics from a sense of obligation. Was this personal obligation or the obligation of the writer?
[MVL] Well, you know, when I ... I, I think writers are citizens too, you know, and have the moral obligation to participate in the civic debate, in the debate about the solutions to the problems that the societies face. That doesn't mean that I think that writers should become professional politicians. No, I never thought, I never wanted to become a professional politician. I did it once because the situation in Peru was deeply, deeply serious. We had hyperinflation, we have terrorism, there was war, civil war, in the country. And, in this environment, my impression was that the very fragile democracy that we had [phone line drops out] was on the point of collapse! So, it was in this circumstances. But, I did it as something very exceptional and knowing perfectly well that this would be a transitory experience, no, which it was.
But, on the other hand, I am ... I, I think that writers, as the rest of citizens, should participate in the civic problems. Otherwise, you couldn't ... you couldn't protest! You couldn't [phone line drops out] participate. If you believe in democracy, democracy is participation, and I don't think why writers, or artists, or intellectuals should exonerate themselves of this moral obligation to participate.
[AS] Ok, a last question. The announcement will expose you to a whole new readership, who have never read you before. Would you recommend that they start will one book in particular?
[MVL] Oh, well, ha ha! I don't know! I suppose ... ah ... I don't really know. But, maybe ... No! I cannot say. No, I cannot say.
[AS] Ok. That's good: leave them to their free choice, yes.
[MVL] Very well, sir.
[AS] Well, it's been a pleasure to talk to you.
[MVL] Thank you very much.
[AS] Congratulations. Thank you very much, good bye.
[MVL] Good bye!
Mario Vargas Llosa
Born: 28 March 1936, Arequipa, Peru
Prize motivation: "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat
December 7, 2010
In Praise of Reading and Fiction
I learned to read at the age of five, in Brother Justiniano’s class at the De la Salle Academy in Cochabamba, Bolivia. It is the most important thing that has ever happened to me. Almost seventy years later I remember clearly how the magic of translating the words in books into images enriched my life, breaking the barriers of time and space and allowing me to travel with Captain Nemo twenty thousand leagues under the sea, fight with d’Artagnan, Athos, Portos, and Aramis against the intrigues threatening the Queen in the days of the secretive Richelieu, or stumble through the sewers of Paris, transformed into Jean Valjean carrying Marius’s inert body on my back.
Reading changed dreams into life and life into dreams and placed the universe of literature within reach of the boy I once was. My mother told me the first things I wrote were continuations of the stories I read because it made me sad when they concluded or because I wanted to change their endings. And perhaps this is what I have spent my life doing without realizing it: prolonging in time, as I grew, matured, and aged, the stories that filled my childhood with exaltation and adventures.
I wish my mother were here, a woman who was moved to tears reading the poems of Amado Nervo and Pablo Neruda, and Grandfather Pedro too, with his large nose and gleaming bald head, who celebrated my verses, and Uncle Lucho, who urged me so energetically to throw myself body and soul into writing even though literature, in that time and place, compensated its devotees so badly.
Writing stories was not easy. When they were turned into words, projects withered on the paper and ideas and images failed. How to reanimate them? Fortunately, the masters were there, teachers to learn from and examples to follow. Flaubert taught me that talent is unyielding discipline and long patience. Faulkner, that form – writing and structure – elevates or impoverishes subjects. Martorell, Cervantes, Dickens, Balzac, Tolstoy, Conrad, Thomas Mann, that scope and ambition are as important in a novel as stylistic dexterity and narrative strategy.
If in this address I were to summon all the writers to whom I owe a few things or a great deal, their shadows would plunge us into darkness. They are innumerable. In addition to revealing the secrets of the storytelling craft, they obliged me to explore the bottomless depths of humanity, admire its heroic deeds, and feel horror at its savagery. They were my most obliging friends, the ones who vitalized my calling and in whose books I discovered that there is hope even in the worst of circumstances, that living is worth the effort if only because without life we could not read or imagine stories.
At times I wondered whether writing was not a solipsistic luxury in countries like mine, where there were scant readers, so many people who were poor and illiterate, so much injustice, and where culture was a privilege of the few. These doubts, however, never stifled my calling, and I always kept writing even during those periods when earning a living absorbed most of my time.
Good literature erects bridges between different peoples, and by having us enjoy, suffer, or feel surprise, unites us beneath the languages, beliefs, habits, customs, and prejudices that separate us. When the great white whale buries Captain Ahab in the sea, the hearts of readers take fright in exactly the same way in Tokyo, Lima, or Timbuctu.
Since every period has its horrors, ours is the age of fanatics, of suicide terrorists, an ancient species convinced that by killing they earn heaven, that the blood of innocents washes away collective affronts, corrects injustices, and imposes truth on false beliefs. Every day, all over the world, countless victims are sacrificed by those who feel they possess absolute truths.
In my youth, like many writers of my generation, I was a Marxist and believed socialism would be the remedy for the exploitation and social injustices that were becoming more severe in my country, in Latin America, and in the rest of the Third World.
As a boy I dreamed of coming some day to Paris because, dazzled by French literature, I believed that living there and breathing the air breathed by Balzac, Stendhal, Baudelaire, and Proust would help transform me into a real writer, and if I did not leave Peru I would be only a pseudo Sundays-and-holidays writer. And the truth is I owe to France and French culture unforgettable lessons, for example that literature is as much a calling as it is a discipline, a job, an obstinacy.
From that time to this, not without stumbling and blunders, Latin America has made progress although, as César Vallejo said in a poem, Hay, hermanos, muchísimo que hacer [There is still, brothers, so much to do].
I never felt like a foreigner in Europe or, in fact, anywhere. In all the places I have lived, in Paris, London, Barcelona, Madrid, Berlin, Washington, New York, Brazil, or the Dominican Republic, I felt at home. I have always found a lair where I could live in peace, work, learn things, nurture dreams, and find friends, good books to read, and subjects to write about. It does not seem to me that my unintentionally becoming a citizen of the world has weakened what are called “my roots,” my connections to my own country – which would not be particularly important – because if that were so, my Peruvian experiences would not continue to nourish me as a writer and would not always appear in my stories, even when they seem to occur very far from Peru.
I carry Peru deep inside me because that is where I was born, grew up, was formed, and lived those experiences of childhood and youth that shaped my personality and forged my calling, and there I loved, hated, enjoyed, suffered, and dreamed.
A compatriot of mine, José María Arguedas, called Peru the country of “every blood.” I do not believe any formula defines it better: that is what we are and that is what all Peruvians carry inside us, whether we like it or not: an aggregate of traditions, races, beliefs, and cultures proceeding from the four cardinal points.
The conquest of America was cruel and violent, like all conquests, of course, and we should criticize it but not forget as we do that those who committed pillage and crimes were, for the most part, our great-grandfathers and great-great-grandfathers, the Spaniards who came to America and adopted American ways, not those who remained in their own country.
I love Spain as much as Peru, and my debt to her is as great as my gratitude. If not for Spain, I never would have reached this podium or become a known writer and perhaps, like so many unfortunate colleagues, I would wander in the limbo of writers without luck, publishers, prizes, or readers, whose talent – sad comfort – posterity may one day discover.
Of all the years I have lived on Spanish soil, I remember as most brilliant the five I spent in a dearly loved Barcelona in the early 1970s. Franco’s dictatorship was still in power and shooting, but by then it was a fossil in rags, and especially in the field of culture, incapable of maintaining its earlier controls. Cracks and chinks were opening that the censors could not patch over, and through them Spanish society absorbed new ideas, books, currents of thought, and artistic values and forms prohibited until then as subversive.
Although it did not occur exactly that way, the Spanish transition from dictatorship to democracy has been one of the best stories of modern times, an example of how, when good sense and reason prevail and political adversaries set aside sectarianism for the common good, events can occur as marvelous as the ones in novels of magic realism.
I despise every form of nationalism, a provincial ideology – or rather, religion – that is short-sighted, exclusive, that cuts off the intellectual horizon and hides in its bosom ethnic and racist prejudices, for it transforms into a supreme value, a moral and ontological privilege, the fortuitous circumstance of one’s birthplace. Along with religion, nationalism has been the cause of the worst slaughters in history, like those in the two world wars and the current bloodletting in the Middle East. Nothing has contributed as much as nationalism to Latin America’s having been Balkanized and stained with blood in senseless battles and disputes, squandering astronomical resources to purchase weapons instead of building schools, libraries, and hospitals.
We should not confuse a blinkered nationalism and its rejection of the “other,” always the seed of violence, with patriotism, a salutary, generous feeling of love for the land where we were born, where our ancestors lived, where our first dreams were forged, a familiar landscape of geographies, loved ones, and events that are transformed into signposts of memory and defenses against solitude.
Peru is for me Arequipa, where I was born but never lived, a city my mother, grandparents, and aunts and uncles taught me to know through their memories and yearnings, because my entire family tribe, as Arequepeños tend to do, always carried the White City with them in their wandering existence.
Peru is Patricia, my cousin with the upturned nose and indomitable character, whom I was lucky enough to marry forty-five years ago and who still endures the manias, neuroses, and temper tantrums that help me to write. Without her my life would have dissolved a long time ago into a turbulent whirlwind, and Alvaro, Gonzalo, Morgana and the six grandchildren who extend and gladden our existence would not have been born.
Let us return to literature. The paradise of childhood is not a literary myth for me but a reality I lived and enjoyed in the large family house with three courtyards in Cochabamba, where with my cousins and school friends we could reproduce the stories of Tarzan and Salgari, and in the prefecture of Piura, where bats nested in the lofts, silent shadows that filled the starry nights of that hot land with mystery.
Although it is very difficult and forces me to sweat blood and, like every writer, to feel at times the threat of paralysis, a dry season of the imagination, nothing has made me enjoy life as much as spending months and years constructing a story, from its uncertain beginnings, the image memory stores of a lived experience that becomes a restlessness, an enthusiasm, a daydream that then germinates into a project and the decision to attempt to convert the agitated cloud of phantoms into a story.
When speaking of fiction, I have talked a great deal about the novel and very little about the theater, another of its preeminent forms. A great injustice, of course. Theater was my first love, ever since, as an adolescent, I saw Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman at the Segura Theater in Lima, a performance that left me transfixed with emotion and precipitated my writing a drama with Incas.
Literature is a false representation of life that nevertheless helps us to understand life better, to orient ourselves in the labyrinth where we are born, pass by, and die. It compensates for the reverses and frustrations real life inflicts on us, and because of it we can decipher, at least partially, the hieroglyphic that existence tends to be for the great majority of human beings, principally those of us who generate more doubts than certainties and confess our perplexity before subjects like transcendence, individual and collective destiny, the soul, the sense or senselessness of history, the to and fro of rational knowledge.
I have always been fascinated to imagine the uncertain circumstance in which our ancestors – still barely different from animals, the language that allowed them to communicate with one another just recently born – in caves, around fires, on nights seething with the menace of lightning bolts, thunder claps, and growling beasts, began to invent and tell stories.
This never-interrupted process was enriched when writing was born and stories, in addition to being heard, could be read, achieving the permanence literature confers on them. That is why this must be repeated incessantly until new generations are convinced of it: fiction is more than an entertainment, more than an intellectual exercise that sharpens one’s sensibility and awakens a critical spirit.
From the cave to the skyscraper, from the club to weapons of mass destruction, from the tautological life of the tribe to the era of globalization, the fictions of literature have multiplied human experiences, preventing us from succumbing to lethargy, self-absorption, resignation.
Stockholm, December 7, 2010