‘Rough Times’ is the new fiction by Mario Vargas Llosa created from a real story

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MOTHERS – Mario Vargas Llosa he sees Latin America “resigned to democracy” and distant, with the exception of dictatorships that he described as “ideological”, from the barbarism of military dictatorial regimes.

Despite attempts by the Nobel Prize in Literature In 2010 to avoid comment on politics, the presentation of his most recent novel to journalists in Madrid last October served to do so. Because Rough Times (now launched in Brazil, under the Alfaguara label) is inspired by a military coup supported by the United States against Guatemalan President Jacobo Árbenz, an episode that, according to Vargas Llosa, changed the region’s destiny.

“A country, except in exceptional cases, does not reach this situation in one day,” said the Peruvian writer, referring to the famous question of Conversation at the Cathedral: “When did Peru get like this?” He pointed out that Latin America “lived a long process in which it lost opportunities”, starting with a “flawed” independence in which the thirst for power thwarted Simón Bolívar’s liberating dream and gave rise to military dictatorships everywhere.

“Fortunately, nowadays this Latin America has resigned itself to democracy, it understood that democracy is the way to effectively fight against underdevelopment and failure,” he said. “There are no more military dictatorships of this type, today we have other dictatorships that are ideological, like Cuba or Venezuela. And, above all, we have very imperfect democracies, because they are very corrupt, because there is a lot of demagogy and because populism also causes damage. ”

In his new novel, Vargas Llosa unveils conflicts and conspiracies that devastated regional politics between 1940 and 1959. The key year is 1954, when Washington, through its intelligence agency, supports the coup leader, Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas, and overthrows the democratic government of Guatemala.

Obsessed with the Cold War, the United States government had accused President Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán of being a Soviet puppet by undertaking land reform contrary to the interests of a large fruit conglomerate. The author sees in these events the reason for the turn of Fidel Castro for communism: “My impression is that if the United States had supported the reforms instead of overthrowing Árbenz, probably the history of Latin America would have been different”.

The author of Pantaleão and the Visitors e The Goat Party he said that, as in many other of his works, the germ of his latest novel was a story he heard during a dinner and then devoted himself to research, feeding his imagination to fill “the gaps”.

“I start to investigate in order to lie knowingly, in order to be able to create fiction from real material,” he said. “Romance and history have always had very close relationships. Historical facts are respected, but in the details, a novelist’s freedom is and must be total. ”

At 84 and with more than a dozen novels, plays and hundreds of opinion pieces and lectures, the award-winning writer said he feels more insecure in dealing with the typewriter today than when he started.

“I don’t know if it’s the pressure of not letting your audience down or being trapped in their ghosts that make you never be safe,” said Vargas Llosa.

But writing “is the time for panic, and also an extraordinary moment of satisfaction, when a door is discovered that opens history in a direction that was not suspected”. / TRANSLATION OF ROMINA CÁCIA


Author: Mario Vargas Llosa

Trad .: Paulina Wacht e Ari Roitman

Ed .: Alfaguara (280 pages, R $ 59.90)


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