Some years the Nobel Prize judges have been accused of awarding the prize in literature to a relatively obscure author. That is not a claim that can be made this year. The 2010 winner, Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa, is one of the greats of Latin American literature, a writer fully of the stature of other regional giants such as Jorge Luis Borges and Gabríel Garcia Márquez. (the winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature).
In addition to his career as a novelist, essayist, playwright, and journalist, Vargas Llosa is also known worldwide as a politician. In 1990, he ran unsuccessfully for the presidency of Peru and has spent much of his life deeply engaged in politics and political causes.
Vargas Llosa has written more than a dozen novels in addition to many other books and stories. His 1966 novel "The Time of the Hero" – which draws on his own experiences at the Leoncio Prado military school and explores corruption in Peruvian society, one of his major themes – helped to introduce Vargas Llosa to a global audience.
Vargas Llosa's varied work embraces a multiplicity of styles but can best be described as deeply political, with a focus on questions of power and its dangers. In a recent interview with January magazine Vargas Llosa explained that he has always chosen to write about the things that touched his life. "I don't choose my subjects; I am chosen by them," he said. What drives him, he says, is always "a curiosity, an entusiasmo,"
Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's book editor.