EL ESCORIAL, SPAIN – JULY 06: Mario Vargas Llosa attends ‘Gabriel Garcia Marquez: mas alla del realismo magico’ summer course by Complutense University on July 6, 2017 in El Escorial, Spain. (Photo by Europa Press/Europa Press via Getty Images)

In the 1960s, Latin American literature came to become more popular and recognized, and this rapid development has come to be called “El Boom”. An important part of “El Boom”? Mario Vargas Llosa!

Mario Vargas Llosa

It is a known fact that literature has had a major impact on the development of society in almost all corners of the world. Every country has their own literary heroes, and the pride of Peru’s literature is heavily influenced by the works of Mario Vargas Llosa, who shares the pedestal of the greatest Latin American authors with the likes of Gabriel García Márquez and Jorge Luis Borges.

Born in Arequipa in 1936 to a conventional household at the time, he yearned for freedom and creativity. His passion for writing started almost as a rebellion against the authority of his parents – a way to channel his thoughts, and not long after he started writing, he knew that his destiny was going to be fueled by the rhythmic rattle of a typewriter.

Many of Vargas Llosa’s works are influenced by his perception of Peruvian society and his own experiences as a native Peruvian. Like many Latin American writers, he has also been politically active throughout his career, even running for the Peruvian presidency in 1990.

Mario Vargas Llosa

Increasingly, however, he expanded his range, and tackled themes that arise from other parts of the world. In his essays, Vargas Llosa has been very critical of nationalism in different parts of the world. Another change over the course of his career has been a shift from a style and approach associated with literary modernism, to a sometimes playful postmodernism.

Over the decades, Vargas Llosa’s literary instincts have churned out an extensive variety of Latin American literature – ranging from autobiographical books, historical novels, plays, essays, and political pieces. He is best known for several novels, such as ´The Green House´(1966), set in the sordid and surprising atmosphere around a brothel of Piura; ´Conversation in The Cathedral´ (1969), which recreates the oppression of Odria’s dictatorship in student environments; and ´Aunt Julia and the writer´ (1977), a controversial autobiographical fiction on his first marriage – to name just a few.

Vargas Llosa won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2010 and some critics consider him to have had a larger international impact and worldwide audience than any other writer of “El Boom”. In wake of his success and triumph in the world of Latin American literature, the house where he spent part of his childhood in Arequipa has recently been restored into Casa Museo Mario Vargas Llosa, and declared part of the Cultural Heritage of the Nation.

Mario Vargas Llosa

At Enigma, we highly recommend a visit to the house and now museum in Arequipa, especially for literature enthusiasts interested in knowing more about the award-winning Peruvian author. The approximately one and a half hour-long tour includes a surprising multimedia presentation through several rooms, using holograms and movies to describe various aspects of his life, his greatest works and inspirations. It is however important to note that the explanations and videos are currently only available in Spanish. An English version is expected to be introduced in 2018.

Throughout the country, you can find locations mentioned in Vargas LLosa´s books or visit places he likes to frequent whenever he is in Peru. In Arequipa, he has been spotted a few times at traditional picanterias and in Lima you can visit places along ´la Ruta de Vargas Llosa´.

Should you have any questions regarding a visit to the house of Mario Vargas Llosa in Arequipa or would like to learn more about this important writer during your stay in Peru, feel free to get in touch with the Enigma team.

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