The Feast of the Goat A Novel

Mario Vargas Llosa; Translated by Edith Grossman




Trade Paperback

416 Pages



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A Library Journal Best Book

Haunted all her life by feelings of terror and emptiness, forty-nine-year-old Urania Cabral returns to her native Dominican Republic—and finds herself reliving the events of 1961, when the capital was still called Trujillo City and one old man terrorized a nation of three million. Rafael Trujillo, the depraved, ailing dictator whom Dominicans call "the Goat," controls his inner circle (including Urania's father, a secretary of state now in disgrace) with a combination of violence and blackmail. In Trujillo's gaudy palace, treachery and cowardice have become a way of life. But Trujillo's grasp is slipping. There is a conspiracy against him, and a Machiavellian revolution is already under way that will have bloody consequences of its own. In this magisterial and long-awaited novel, Mario Vargas Llosa recounts the end of a regime and the terrible birth of a democracy, giving voice to the historical Trujillo and to the victims, both innocent and complicit, who were drawn into his deadly orbit.


Praise for The Feast of the Goat

"Vargas Llosa's Trujillo is a riveting creation uncorked—a volcano of vulgar, self-pitying rage . . . Trujillo is a Nietzchean vampire, sucking up others' wills into his own . . . The general's bloody end is never in doubt. The suspense comes from wondering who will fill his boots."—Walter Kirn, The New York Times Book Review

"Trollope might regard politics, sex and religion as the stuff of high comedy, but they are also at the dark heart of Mario Vargas Llosa's portrayal of the last days of the Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic. This brilliant study of tyranny is not for the squeamish. Yet the sickening detail enables one to grasp how terror combined with corruption can paralyze an entire society, stifling the merest impulse toward resistance. The novel's account of the dictator's increasingly brutal efforts to hold power alternates with the story of one of his victims, a young girl whose father delivered her to 'the goat' for deflowering in hopes of regaining political favor. What lifts The Feast of the Goat into the front rank of political novels is the author's depiction of how, against all odds, probabilities were finally shifted in the direction of democracy. In Vargas Llosa's telling, a few courageous priests and sisters stand out as forces for decency, and a crucial turning point occurs when all five Dominican bishops issue a pastoral letter condemning the regime."—The Wall Street Journal
"He is one of our greatest and most influential novelists. His new novel confirms his importance. In the world of fiction his continued exploration of the often-perilous intersection of politics and life has enriched 20th century literature . . . In The Feast of the Goat, Vargas Llosa paints a portrait that is darkly comic, poignant, admirable and horrifying all at once."—Los Angeles Times

"The book brings readers to the precipice of terror and lets us look into the abyss of cruelty as it poses and answers the question: Why do people not oppose dictators? . . . He has by his body of work already secured a place as one of the monumental writers of our time."—The Boston Globe

"Poignant, moving, and immensely readable . . . engaging and insightful . . . A new book by Mario Vargas Llosa always provokes attention, for there are few novelists alive as dedicated as he is to the possibilities of fiction, in all its moods, modes, and manners."—Alastair Reid, The New York Review of Books

"It is the novel's marvelous and complex formal mastery . . . that conquers the reader, in the way that the formal beauty of great musical composition does . . . I can't think of a novel that better dramatizes the way political evil can reach any of us in that innermost place. The Feast of the Goat is a masterpiece of Latin American and world literature, and one of the finest political novels ever written."—Francisco Goldman, Bookforum

"Taking on the role more of narrating angel rather than avenging god, [Vargas Llosa] has brilliantly re-created one of the darkest periods in the recent history of the Americas."—Alan Cheuse, San Francisco Chronicle

"This is a dark, energetic, and powerful novel . . . The Feast of the Goat, a realist version of Gabriel García Márquez's The Autumn of the Patriarch, offers no transcendence. Plotted for years, the assassination of Trujillo brings scant relief. This is a frightening, troubling book."—Joan Mellen, The Baltimore Sun

"A gripping historical novel centering on the last days of the aging generalíssimo. The book is a remarkable and persuasive achievement."—Fritz Lanham, Houston Chronicle

"While it is true that every unhappy country is unhappy in its own way, you do not have to be Dominican, or Peruvian, to be engrossed by Vargas Llosa's deft account of trouble in the tropics. The story of a fastidious beast whose appetite devoured everything, including himself, The Feast of the Goat leaves an acrid aftertaste."—Steven Kellman, Chicago Tribune

"In The Feast of the Goat, Vargas Llosa shows that a sweeping historical epic can still be great literature . . . Vargas Llosa takes the story of a long-murdered dictator and creates a meditation on memory, terror, and murderous complicity."—Dylan Foley, The Denver Post

"Compelling and controversial, La Fiesta del Chivo (The Feast of the Goat) is a 'must read.'"—Alberto Huerta, Hispanic Outlook

"With his tight and gripping storytelling technique—combined with the numerous historical detail—Vargas Llosa ensnares the reader completely within this novel, transforming a few personal stories into a panoramic and powerful reproduction of Latin American history and politics."—Kathleen Guico, Harvard Book Review

"[Feast of the Goat] is nothing less than a head-on attack against the most inhumanly cruel and degrading kind of corrupt dictatorship . . . The plot is fast moving, suspenseful, and gripping."—Donald L. Shaw, Latin American Literature and Arts

"With the publication of The Feast of the Goat, Vargas Llosa reassumes his place as one of the world's most important contemporary novelists."—USA Today
"The Feast of the Goat is a fascinating version of the last days of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, 'the goat,' the dictator who led the Dominican Republic from 1930 to 1961. The great Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa . . . largely succeeds on both fronts; as a thrilling page-turner and a documentation of historical record . . . Another highlight in a magnificent."—David Lida, San Antonio Express-News

"According to Mario Vargas Llosa, good fiction makes people uneasy. By that standard, his Feast of the Goat is a masterpiece, both to the degree it is sure to make readers squirm and for the multitude of reasons it gives them to do so."—Steve Tomasula, Review of Contemporary Fiction

"Rivaling Shakespeare's Julius Caesar as one of the most disturbing fictional accounts of tyranny meeting its unexpected annihilation, Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa's The Feast of the Goat is a fierce, brilliant account of the poorly orchestrated 1961 assassination of the Dominican Republic's dictator, Rafael Trujillo, and its far-reaching repercussions"—Jeremy Spencer, The Memphis Flyer

"Gathering power as it rolls along, this massive, swift-moving fictional take on a grim period in Dominican history shows that Vargas Llosa is still one of the world's premier novelists."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt


Urania. Her parents had done her no favor; her name suggested a planet, a mineral, anything but the slender, fine-featured woman with burnished skin and large, dark, rather sad eyes who looked back at her from the mirror. Urania! What an idea for a name. Fortunately nobody called her that anymore; now it was Uri, Miss Cabral, Ms. Cabral, Dr. Cabral. As far as she could remember, after she left Santo Domingo (or Ciudad Trujillo—when she left they had not yet restored the old name to the capital city), no one in Adrian, or Boston, or Washington, D.C., or New York had called

Read the full excerpt


  • Mario Vargas Llosa; Translated by Edith Grossman

  • Mario Vargas Llosa is the winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature “for his cartography of the structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat.” Peru’s foremost writer, he has been awarded the Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world’s most distinguished literary honor, and the Jerusalem Prize. His many works include The Feast of the Goat, The Bad Girl, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, The War of the End of the World, and The Storyteller. He lives in London.

    Edith Grossman has translated the poetry and prose of major Spanish-language authors, including Gabriel García Marquez, Alvaro Mutis, and Mayra Montero, as well as Mario Vargas Llosa.
  • Mario Vargas Llosa Morgana Vargas Llosa