Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The year that was: The (Peruvian) pen is mightier than the sword

We continue our look at some of the top stories of 2010 with a high honor granted to one of Latin America’s most famous authors.

In October, Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa was named as this year’s Nobel Literature Prize winner. Though oddsmakers named the likes of Philip Roth and Alice Munro as favorites, the Nobel committee cited Vargas Llosa’s “cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat". The 1995 Cervantes Prize winner and former presidential candidate thus became the sixth Latin American to win such a prestigious honor.

As part of his Nobel lecture in Stockholm on Tuesday, Vargas Llosa praised the maturation of democracy in Latin America though he also criticized the “pseudo populist, clownish” governments in parts of the region. Politics aside, he also gave some powerful and inspiring on the importance of literature in our modern world:
"We would be worse than we are without the good books we have read, more conformist, not as restless, more submissive, and the critical spirit, the engine of progress, would not even exist," he argued. "Like writing, reading is a protest against the insufficiencies of life. When we look in fiction for what is missing in life, we are saying, with no need to say it or even to know it, that life as it is does not satisfy our thirst for the absolute – the foundation of the human condition – and should be better."
The following video is of a 2007 Al Jazeera interview of Vargas Llosa by British journalist David Frost. He echoed the sentiments expressed in his speech this week including proclaiming that “literature is not only entertainment…writers and intellectuals can have an impact on political life.”

Video Source - YouTube
Online Sources- The Guardian, Times of India, NPR, The Latin Americanist

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