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Archive for December 29th, 2010

by Jaime Grijalba

After a long time, and a trippy interlude, I’m back with the debut novel of the recent Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa, which was handed to him just recently (December the 10th) after an acceptance speech given three days earlier called ‘In Praise of Reading and Fiction’, which I recommend reading here. It’s an astounding piece and you should absolutely read it as I’ll make references to it during this and maybe forthcoming reviews of his fiction work.

Before I dwelve into the aspects of ‘The Time of the Hero’, the first published novel written by Mario Vargas Llosa, I do have some reservations regarding his political thinking that I can’t avoid. Reading his acceptance speech was a truly illuminating experience in two senses: one, he truly demonstrates his  capabilities with the written word, with subtle nuances and low blows, passing them as praise and human perfection; and two, his political views are clearly the weakest aspect of his thinking. He may know how to write about political figures, political processes, specially regarding dictatorships, but that doesn’t mean that his hate towards that kind of government makes his astoundingly ridiculous political statements correct. His lack of vision of the real situation of Latin America is caused by the distance he usually has with the continent (he’s a  ‘citizen of the world’, according to his speech), and because of the blindfold that right-wing political thinking can be.

Mario has said that a government without a culture is a goverment that doesn’t work with the people (I’m paraphrasing here), yet he  supported the right-wing presidential candidate of my country (Mr. Sebastián Piñera) who ended up winning the election and now is passing an education reform that it’s currently reducing the hours dedicated to History, now there’s a contradiction caused by the blindness of biased political thinking (‘we’re from the same political party, so I should just aid him’ nonsense). Just one more example before the review, in his speech he has called the indigenous population as an ‘unresolved issue’ in Latin America, specially due to their lack of recognition; yet, at the same time, he calls Bolivia a ‘pseudo populist, clownish democracy’, only because of its socialist democratic regime, which is the only one that’s actively working on the recognition of bolivian indigenous minorities (being the president himself an indigenous descendant).

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