Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award
Spanning thirty years of writing, Making Waves traces the development of the Nobel Prize–winning author Mario Vargas Llosa’s thinking on politics and culture, and shows the breadth of his interests and passions. Featured here are astute meditations on the Cuban Revolution, Latin American independence, and the terrorism of Peru’s Shining Path; brilliant engagements with towering figures of literature such as Joyce, Faulkner, and Sartre; and observations about the dog cemetery where Rin Tin Tin is buried, Lorena Bobbitt’s knife, and the failures of the English public-school system.
“Making Waves is fascinating . . . [It] is a diverse and representative volume that allows us, for the first time, to trace this enigmatic, often brilliant writer’s . . . intellectual journey.”—Jay Parini, The New York Times Book Review “In the star-studded world of the Latin American novel, Mario Vargas Llosa is a supernova.”—Raymond Sokolov, The Wall Street Journal “Vargas Llosa speaks in his own voice, sees through his own eyes. His vision is unique. His genius is unmistakable.”—Eugenia Thornton, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) "A strong selection of the 60-year-old Peruvian novelist's journalism and literary essays, spanning 30 years of prodigious, passionate creativity. Such collections of fugitive works by great writers are tricky: some seem to consist largely of pet peeves and fragmentary musings. That's not the case here. Vargas Llosa writes with compelling insight, verve, and intelligence about even the most modest matters . . . He writes with vigor and clarity: essays produced in the 1960s and '70s on, say, the difference between Camus and Sartre, are just as alive and relevant now as when he wrote them. Naturally, Vargas Llosa writes a good deal about politics, especially South American politics. ('The raison d'être of a writer,' he reminds us, 'is protest, disagreement, criticism.') Though politicial essays are especially prone to seeming dated and irrelevant, in Vargas Llosa's hands the opposite is true. He cannily brings out the element of the permanent that inhabits the ephemeral. But perhaps his best efforts in this book are the literary essays. He turns his analytic gaze on Doris Lessing, Grass, Dos Passos, Faulkner, Cortázar, Bataille, Buñuel, de Beauvoir, Joyce, Bellow, Rushdie, and Havel, among others, to considerable effect. In addition, he has interesting things to say about such diverse topics as Lorena Bobbit, the British school system, and the grave of Rin Tin Tin. The collection is also of interest because it offers an intimate chronicle of Vargas Llosa's intellectual life, tracing his trajectory from the political left to the right, a transit he has made with admirable honesty and self-criticism."—Kirkus Reviews "The eminent Peruvian novelist [has] produced a substantial body of journalistic writings, and in this omnibus collection covering three decades, selected by his translator King, he addresses topics as diverse as the work of Surrealist filmmaker Bruel, the World Cup of 1982, and the Lorena Bobbit grotesquerie . . . Vargas Llosa writes most effectively when discussing authors who have profoundly influenced him: Faulkner, Joyce, Sartre. Everywhere his conviction in the value of the writer's métier 'literature is fire' burns, and the writer's ability to effect social justice in society. He testifies to such a change now taking place in Latin America."—Amy Boaz, Library Journal "This varied collection of essays, written over three decades and appearing in publications worldwide, traces the development of Vargas Llosa's thinking on government, society and culture . . . Vargas Llosa's luminous essays on literature embody a heroic view of writers as lonely rebels struggling against indifference and contempt . . . The pieces reveal a youthful and exuberantly idealistic Marxist slowly yielding, as if inexorably, to a radical liberalism born of a disillusionment with revolutionary politics . . . Ever tantalized by an insatiable hunger for beauty and justice, Vargas Llosa is a writer of great integrity and humor, and this new volume will be treasured by those who relish the brilliance and clarity of his prose."—Publishers Weekly Table of ContentsAcknowledgementsForeword