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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mario Vargas Llosa Wins Nobel Literature Prize

I’m just finishing the last few pages of Mario Vargas Llosa’s epic novel, Travesuras de la Niña Mala (The Bad Girl). I think this is the third time I have read it in as many years and each time it is better. Granted, the first time I read it my Spanish was rather crappy. It took it with me to read on the train to Barcelona because the book I was reading—the Stieg Larsson thing—is as big as a suitcase. I don’t really have anything to add to what I have already said about this novel.  Below is the quick review I wrote after my first reading. It’s obvious that I’m not a book critic (I wouldn’t want to be). I just like jotting down a few thoughts on books I have enjoyed—sort of like taking amateur photographs.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
MVL wrote this when he was 69 and it´s great to see him getting better with age.  I read this book in about four sittings which is pretty fast considering my level of Spanish.  It is a truly epic novel spanning the lifetime of one of the characters. It was interesting how the life of the main character mirrored Mario Vargas Llosa`s life in Peru, Paris, London, and Madrid.

As a student of Spanish I found this easy to read whereas I had a lot of difficulty with La Fiesta del Chivo from the same author. Some time after I had read the book I found the audio version on the net.  It is one of those computer-generated recordings that sound like a robotic telephone operator—sort of tedious but my Spanish is good enough now to understand it. As I pedaled along the beach bike paths during the four or five days it took me to listen to this 700 page novel I was constantly amazed by Vargas Llosa’s story telling skill. Of all of the novels of MVLL, this is the most straight-forward story with no flashbacks or jumps in time. For this reason it was incredibly easy to read in Spanish. Listening to the audio version, even as read by R2D2, was a snap. I actually stopped short on my bike ride today because I forgot to recharge the battery on my MP3 and it died only a few minutes from leaving the house. I promptly turned around and rejoiced the battery before heading out again. I desperately wanted to keep hearing this great tale of love and obsession.  

I hope he writes for another 30 years.

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