Touchstones Essays on Literature, Art, and Politics

Mario Vargas Llosa; Selected, edited, and translated by John King

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

400 Pages



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One of Latin America's most garlanded novelists—and the recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature—Mario Vargas Llosa is also an acute and wide-ranging cultural critic and an acerbic political commentator. Touchstones collects Vargas Llosa's brilliant readings of seminal twentieth-century novels, from Heart of Darkness to The Tin Drum; incisive essays on political and social thinkers; and contemporary pieces on 9/11 and the immediate aftermath of the war in Iraq.

Fantastically intelligent, inspired, and surprising, Touchstones is a landmark collection of essays from one of the world's leading writers and intellectuals.


Praise for Touchstones

"In the star-studded world of the Latin American novel, Mario Vargas Llosa is a supernova."—Raymond Sokolov, The Wall Street Journal

"The bold, dynamic and endlessly productive imagination of the Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, one of the writing giants of our time, is something truly to be admired . . . As with any great writer, [he] makes us see clearly what we have been looking at all the while but never noticed."—Alan Cheuse, San Francisco Chronicle

"Generous in friendship, unfailingly curious about the world at large, tireless in his quest to probe the nature of the human animal, [Vargas Llosa] is a model writer for our times."—Marie Arana, The Washington Post

"[Vargas Llosa] is a worldly writer in the best sense of the word: intelligent, urbane, well-traveled, well-informed, cosmopolitan, free-thinking and free-speaking."—Merle Rubin, Los Angeles Times

"Mario Vargas Llosa has long been a literary adventurer of the very first order . . . [He], I am convinced, can tell us stories about anything and make them dance to his inventive rhythms."—Lisa Appignanesi, The Independent

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

TOUCHSTONES (Chapter One)Seed of Dreams
The house in Ladislao Cabrera Street in Cochabamba, where I spent my earliest years, had three patios. It was single-storey and very big, at least in my recollection of that period, which my memory preserves...

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  • Mario Vargas Llosa; Selected, edited, and translated by John King

  • Mario Vargas Llosa was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2010 "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 was 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.

  • Mario Vargas Llosa Morgana Vargas Llosa