Mario Vargas Llosa:
The Humane Mouthpiece
Mohammad Shahidul Islam
“I am deeply moved and grateful,” Llosa said in an interview for the Nobel website. “I still don't believe it, I need to read it in the papers…A fantastic encouragement, and frankly, I didn't expect it, you know.”
Yes, it was about 5:30 in the morning when Mario Vargas Llosa, in New York, was rung from the Nobel academy in Stockholm to announce he was the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature 2010. Firstly he believed it was a joke, but later the announcement was a breaking news globally.
74-year old Vargas Llosa is the first Latin American to receive the award since 1990, when it was bestowed on Octavio Paz of Mexico. The prize is given for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat.
“Writing has been such a fantastic pleasure for me all my life,” he added, “that I cannot believe that I am honored and recompensed for something that has been a recompense in itself.” The Nobel is bestowed not only with honour and recognition but a ton of $1.5 million.
The continuous responses from different corners are heartfelt. King Philip of Spain considered it fantastic news, while Colombian Nobel laureate (1982) Gabriel García Márquez, commented on Twitter “we are even.” A long time ago good friends, García Márquez and Vargas Llosa now are poles apart on politics.
Vargas Llosa said in one interview, if his writing is influenced in any way by where he is living at any time, given his frequent travels and living in different countries, “I am much more conscious of the nuances that each language has to express the same feelings… and my relationship with my language is much richer because of living in countries that are not my language.”
Vargas Llosa is a noninterventionist in the factual sense of the word, and is a firm believer of open market, freedom of speech and right to know. He has been advocating to de-criminalize cocaine and marijuana, produced in Latin America for long time. He believes, “war on drugs” will never come winnable and that the billions of dollars spent on banning and arming often exploitive government security forces should instead be used to educate about the dangers of drug abuse and for treating addicts.
He has never been far away from politics like most Latin American writers. “I entered from a sense of obligation, I think writers are citizens too and have a moral obligation to enter the civic debate and the solutions, “ Vargas Llosa said to Adam Smith for the Nobel website.
In the novelist's words, the decree “in all forms, constitutes an amnesty barely disguised to benefit a good number of people connected to the dictatorship and convicted or prosecuted for human rights crimes murders, tortures, disappearances among them the ex-dictator [Alberto Fujimori] and his right-hand man [Vladimiro Montesinos].”
At 15, he was a night-owl crime reporter. Still in his teens, he joined a communist cell and eloped with 33-year-old Julia Urquidi the Bolivian sister-in-law of his uncle. He later drew inspiration from their nine-year marriage to write the comic hit novel "Aunt Julia and the Script Writer" (La Tia Julia y el Escribidor). After they divorced, Vargas Llosa in 1965 married his first cousin, Patricia Llosa, 10 years his junior, and together they had three children.
His prolific work includes plays, essays, novels that range from historical to detective mysteries, comedy and political thrillers, and also newspaper columns and articles, including the fortnightly Piedra de Toque (Touchstone) in El Pais of Madrid. He is also a frequent speaker and visiting professor at universities in Europe and the United States.
Vargas Llosa is currently living in New York and teaching at Princeton University twice a week. He lives between Lima and Madrid, returning to Lima every year in December for the South American summer.
He is not so overwhelmed with the Nobel Prize as his genius is more rocketing than this formal recognition. "I don't think the Nobel Prize will change my writing, my style, my themes," he said and any way he is happy with this international recognition.