Mario Vargas Llosa wins 2010 Nobel Prize in literature

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

The 2010 Nobel Prize in literature was awarded to Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa on Thursday.

Permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy Peter Englund announced that Vargas Llosa had won the coveted literary award “for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individuals’ resistance, revolt and defeat.”

FOR THE RECORD An earlier version of this story mistakenly gave Colombian author Gabriel GarcÃÂÂa Márquez’s first name as Gabriela and Fiona Sampson’s last name as Simpson.

Addressing a crowd of reporters and cameramen in the palatial white-and-gold halls of the Swedish Academy in Stockholm, Englund made the anxiously awaited announcement to resounding applause, speaking first in Swedish, then English and Spanish.

Englund, who hailed Vargas Llosa as “a divinely gifted storyteller,” told reporters that the 74-year-old author was “very, very happy and very moved” on hearing of his award, which included $1.46 million.

First reactions from the literary world in Britain applauded the versatile Peruvian writer whose work ranged from journalism to plays and novels.


John Freeman, editor of Granta, the literary magazine that has published works by Vargas Llosa, said on the phone: “In literary terms it’s fantastic. ... Vargas Llosa’s speaking of truth to power and the way that he seriously investigates the manner in which military dictatorships work ... is singular.

“He had a very vigorous public life, which often obscures the fact that he is first and foremost a restless stylist. He’s worked as a satirist; he’s written parodies, political thrillers; he’s moved from a fairly earnest modern style to a very lucid, clear style. ... I think it’s the hallmark of a writer who is endlessly searching for new ways to depict the refraction of history in life.”

Freeman added that Vargas Llosa was also a welcome choice because his name had arisen for years as a potential winner but then receded to “become in some ways part of the ether ... and so many novelists of generations after him are standing on work that he has created.”

Speaking on the BBC, Fiona Sampson, editor of the Poetry Review, spoke of Vargas Llosa’s political journey, on which he began as “a Marxist as a student and he ended up as a neo-liberal, but ... he isn’t only a novelist of ideas, his debut novel was set in a military academy so very controversial , but he wrote novels of relationships -- “Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter” -- and he’s written great historical novels, [he’s] a writer of great range.”


Vargas Llosa who has Spanish citizenship, has lived in London and Lima, Peru, where he ran unsuccessfully for president in 1990, as a candidate of the Democratic Front movement.

The last South American to win the Nobel Prize in literature was Colombian Gabriel GarcÃÂÂa Márquez in 1982.