Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Discreet Hero

The Discreet Hero

A Novel

Mario Vargas Llosa; Translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman




Trade Paperback

A tale of two cities—Piura and Lima—rocked by scandal, and the disintegrating bonds of loyalty between the generations
Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa’s newest novel follows two fascinating characters whose lives are destined to intersect: neat, endearing Felícito Yanaqué, a small businessman in Piura, Peru, who finds himself the victim of blackmail; and Ismael Carrera, a successful owner of an insurance company in Lima, who cooks up a plan to avenge himself against the two lazy sons who want him dead.

Felícito and Ismael are, each in his own way, quiet, discreet rebels: honorable men trying to seize control of their destinies in a social and political climate where all can seem set in stone, predetermined. They are hardly vigilantes, but each is determined to live according to his own personal ideals and desires—which means forcibly rising above the pettiness of their surroundings. The Discreet Hero is also a chance to revisit some of our favorite players from previous Vargas Llosa novels: Sergeant Lituma, Don Rigoberto, Doña Lucrecia, and Fonchito are all here in a prosperous Peru. Vargas Llosa sketches Piura and Lima vividly—and the cities become not merely physical spaces but realms of the imagination populated by his vivid characters.

A novel whose humor and pathos shine through in Edith Grossman’s masterly translation, The Discreet Hero is another remarkable achievement from the finest Latin American novelist at work today.

Washington Post Best Books of the Year



Felícito Yanaqué, the owner of the Narihualá Transport Company, left his house that morning, as he did every morning Monday to Saturday, at exactly seven thirty, after doing half an hour of qigong, taking a cold shower,...


Praise for The Discreet Hero

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

“[A] singular all-star performance . . . An exquisite concoction, a delicious melodrama of sex and betrayal, love and revenge . . . Vargas Llosa’s novel is swift, seamless, and as structurally symmetrical as a diamond.” —The Washington Post

“Often funny; you turn the pages with relish; it offers plenty to think about and admire. . . . [The Discreet Hero] immerses you in the way you hope any novel will immerse you.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Simultaneously exotic and familiar in the way that all great literature seems to be. Its ease is that of a mastery playing at his craft, using danger, fear, evil, and empathy to carry the reader along. . . . Mario Vargas Llosa knows exactly what he’s doing.”—Los Angeles Times

"An energetic book with a more straightforward narrative method than almost any other Vargas Llosa." —The New Yorker

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Mario Vargas Llosa; Translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman

Mario Vargas Llosa was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010 "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat." He has been awarded the Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world's most distinguished literary honor. His many works include The Feast of the Goat, The Bad Girl, and Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter.
One of our most celebrated translators of literature in Spanish, Edith Grossman has translated the works of the Nobel laureates Mario Vargas Llosa and Gabriel García Márquez, among others. Her version of Miguel de Cervantes's Don Quixote is considered the finest translation of the Spanish masterpiece in the English language.

Mario Vargas Llosa

Morgana Vargas Llosa

Edith Grossman

Work in Progress essay by Vargas Llosa

Learn about Vargas Llosa's Nobel Prize

Paris Review Interview with Vargas Llosa

A New York Times profile on Vargas Llosa

From the Publisher


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