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Vargas Llosa, Mario

Born: 1936 AD
Currently alive, at 85 years of age.
Nationality: Peruvian
Categories: Authors, Essayists, Novelists

1936 – He was born on the 28th day of March this year in Arequipa. He spent his childhood with his mother in Cochabamba, Bolivia, obtaining his early education at the local Colegio La Salle. During the government of José Luis Bustamante y Rivero, his grandfather obtained an important political post in the Peruvian city of Piura, which prompted Vargas Llosa’s family to return to Peru near his grandfather and study in the Colegio Salesiano.


1946 – Vargas Llosa moved to Lima and met his father for the first time. His parents reestablished their relationship and lived in the capital during his teenage years.


1950 – While in Lima, he studied at the Colegio La Salle. When Vargas Llosa was 14, his father sent him to the Leoncio Prado Military Academy in Lima.


1953 – During the government of Manuel A. Odría, Vargas Llosa entered Lima’s National University of San Marcos in this year to study literature.


1955 – At the young age of 19, he married Julia Urquidi, his uncle’s sister-in-law, who was 13 years his senior. The relationship did not last long.


1959 – In this year, he left to Spain thanks to a Javier Prado scholarship, and did post-graduate studies at the Complutense University of Madrid, from which he received a Ph.D. in 1971.


1962 – He wrote “La Ciudad y Los Perros” (The Time of the Hero).


1964 – Vargas Llosa and Julia Urquidi were divorced in this year.


1965 – He married his first cousin Patricia Llosa, with whom he has three children: Alvaro Vargas Llosa, a writer and editor; Gonzalo, a businessperson; and Morgana, a photographer.


1966 – He followed it by writing La Casa Verde (The Green House), a novel that shows the considerable influence that William Faulkner had on the budding writer.


1967 – The novel confirmed Vargas Llosa in his position as an important voice of Latin American narrative, and went on to win the first edition of the Rómulo Gallegos International Novel Prize in this year, out-voting works by the veteran Uruguayan writer Juan Carlos Onetti and by Gabriel García Márquez.


1972 – He followed this serious novel with the shorter and much more comic Pantaleón y las Visitadoras (Captain Pantoja and the Special Service), which, through a series of vignettes of dialogues and documents, follows the establishment by the Peruvian armed forces of a corps of prostitutes assigned to visit military outposts in remote jungle areas.


1977 – Vargas Llosa published La tia Julia y el escribidor (Aunt Julia & the Scriptwriter), based in part on his first marriage. Julia Urquidi, his ex-wife, later wrote a memoir, Lo que Varguitas no dijo (What Little Vargas Didn’t Say) in which she gave her own version of their relationship.


1980 – Vargas Llosa became politically active in his native country. He became known for liberal and pro-market views.


1981 – Vargas Llosa’s first novels were set in Peru, but he has broadened his setting over time. Later novels included some set elsewhere in Latin America, such as Brazil (The War of the End of the World.


1987 – When President Alan Garcia attempted to nationalize the banking system, he formed a political movement called Libertad that opposed it.


1990 – He ran for the presidency of Peru in 1990 as the candidate of the center-right FREDEMO coalition, proposing a drastic austerity program.


1991 – He has also written book-length studies of Flaubert and of the Valencian writer Joanot Martorell. Vargas Llosa’s discussion of his own novels is contained in A Writer’s Reality.


2003 – One of his more recent novels (The Way to Paradise) is set largely in France and Tahiti.

2006 – On his most recent visit to Peru before this year’s Presidential election, he campaigned in favor of conservative candidate Lourdes Flores, saying she respected democracy and promised "a moderate" program for the country. Also in this year, his most recent novel, Travesuras de la niña mala, relates the decades-long obsession of its narrator, a Peruvian expatriate, with a woman with whom he first fell in love when both were teenagers.