Thursday, October 07, 2010

New Nobel

He might have punched Gabriel García Márquez on the nose, he might have written a load of misguided claptrap about Guatemala in his El Pais column, but I can't help feeling glad this morning that Mario Vargas Llosa will no longer have to be known as the next Spanish-speaking winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

That the prize has eluded him until now can probably be out down to the fact that his take on the things that matter most (sex, politics etc) have been more subtle and shifting than those of his peers in the boom movement, and that he has produced a string of near-masterpieces, but perhaps not that one stand-out novel in the public consciousness like Gabo or Saramago.

Still, he's surely Latin America's greatest all round man of letters, persistently active, and now that even Fidel has announced a break with his own principles, it seems that the Swedes have forgiven this Peruvian his privileged upbringing, his occasional moral opportunism and his Thatcherite deviancy.

I suppose I might have to go and read The Green House now. Maybe there's an edition out there where you don't need a magnifying glass to make out the text? I did manage to wade through Conversation in the Cathedral, but by the time I got to the end the first third of the book had become a bit foggy to say the least. For newcomers I'd recommend his cleverly structured Lituma crime series, his early comedies and the raunchy aunty and stepmother novels. And I really warmed to his Niña Mala back in 2007.

Update: I'd forgotten that I'd joined the 'Give the Nobel Prize to Mario Vargas Llosa' Facebook group some time ago until I received their thanks and goodbye email this afternoon:

"And the Nobel came. It is with great joy that I announce the end of our little but passionate group effort. The sole purpose of this FB’s group was to raise awareness about a simple yet relevant fact: Mario Vargas Llosa had never won the Nobel Prize in Literature, until today. Thus, when this Friday December 10th Mario Vargas Llosa finally receives his much deserved prize this FB group will cease to exist. Until then, the group will be open to continue celebrating the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature. I wish to thank you all of you for being part of this group."

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