Saturday, September 29, 2018

Peru: The Neighbourhood, by Mario Vargas Llosa

Since the author of this book is a Nobel prize winner, it seemed as if it would be a good choice for Peru. I found, however, that it wasn't really to my taste. It's not a badly written book, but there is a lot of sex, and some of it is very graphic. It starts when Marisa shares a bed with her friend Chabela, after Chabela is caught too close to curfew at Marisa's house and stays the night. There, they discover an attraction for each other. In the meantime Marisa's husband Enrique or Quique, a rich businessman, is being blackmailed after scandalous photos of him at an orgy come into the hands of the gutter press. Quique turns to his lawyer friend Luciano (Chabela's husband) for help.

I felt at first that there wasn't a lot of character development. In the end though, the sex, much of which seems somewhat gratuitous at first, became more important to the plot and setting. The action takes place in the final days of Alberto Fujimori's presidency and as well as the newspaper staff and the two couples, takes in the director of intelligence services, the "Doctor". I began to be more interested in the book for what it revealed about the political situation, the terrorist insurgency, and the lives of Peruvians, both rich and poor, at the time.

Vargas Llosa has written a good many novels over his career, and although I am not familiar with most of his work, it seems unlikely that he would win the Nobel Prize if he was a "one trick pony" so I am thinking it might be worth exploring a bit more to see if some of his other work is more to my taste.

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