Llosa is the second South-American author after Gabriel Garcia Marquez to receive honours from the Swedish Academy.
One of the most acclaimed writers in the Spanish-speaking world, Vargas-Llosa won the 2010 Nobel Prize in literature on Thursday although he wasn’t on a list of favourites, BBC informs. Leading up to the announcement, all bets were on US author Cormac McCarthy and Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami.
The Swedish Academy said it honoured the 74-year-old author “for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt and defeat.”
The author has written more than 30 novels, plays and essays, in 1995, he was awarded the Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world’s most distinguished literary honour. Vargas Llosa is the first South American winner of the prestigious Nobel Prize in literature since it was awarded to Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez in 1982.
The author’s commitment to social change is evident in his novels, plays, and essays. In 1990 he was an unsuccessful candidate for president of Peru. Llosa received his early education in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where his grandfather was the Peruvian consul. He later attended a series of schools in Peru before entering a military school. His first published work was La huida del Inca (1952; The Escape of the Inca), a three-act play. Vargas Llosa’s first novel, La ciudad y los perros (1963; The Time of the Hero), was widely acclaimed. The novel La casa verde (1966; The Green House), set in the Peruvian jungle, combines mythical, popular, and heroic elements to capture the sordid, tragic, and fragmented reality of its characters. Conversación en la catedral (1969; Conversation in the Cathedral) deals with Manuel Odría’s regime (1948–56). The novel Pantaleón y las visitadoras (1973; “Pantaleón and the Visitors”) is a satire of the Peruvian military and religious fanaticism. His semiautobiographical novel La tía Julia y el escribidor (1977; Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter,) was made a movie in 1990 as “Tune in Tomorrow” and combines two distinct narrative points of view to provide a contrapuntal effect. After living three years in London, he was a writer-in-residence at Washington State University in 1969. In 1990 Vargas Llosa lost his bid for the presidency of Peru in a runoff against Alberto Fujimori. Vargas Llosa wrote about this experience in El pez en el agua: memorias (1993; A Fish in the Water: A Memoir).
Last year, the Swedish Academy bestowed the Nobel honour to German writer born in Romania Herta Muller. The Academy has been criticized for being too Euro-centric, ignoring writers from other parts of the world. It has also been accused of having a political bias, favouring left-leaning writers. The annual Nobel Prizes are usually announced in October and are handed out on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of Alfred Nobel, a Swedish industrialist and the inventor of dynamite. Each prize consists of a medal, a personal diploma and a cash award of 10 million Swedish kronor (1.47 million U.S. dollars).