Emory Report
September 19, 2005
Volume 58, Number 4


Emory Report homepage  

September 26 , 2005
Peruvian novelist Vargas Llosa
announced as 2006 speaker

By Michael Terrazas

Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, whose career has ranged from fiction to criticism to even a stint in politics, will deliver the 2006 Richard A. Ellmann Lectures in Modern Literature, April 2–4, 2006, series director Ron Schuchard announced.

Vargas Llosa is one of the leading figures of the Latin American literary world. He is the author of more than three dozen novels, books, plays and other works, and has been awarded numerous honors over his career, including the National Critics’ Prize (1967), the Peruvian National Prize (1967) and the Miguel Cervantes Prize (1994). His most recent novel, The Way to Paradise, was published in the U.S. by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2003.

“He clearly gives the Ellmann Lectures an international scope,” said Schuchard, Goodrich C. White Professor of English, who directs the lecture series named for the late literary scholar and Emory Woodruff Professor Richard Ellmann. The biennial lectures last were delivered in fall 2004 by novelist Salman Rushdie.

“We’ve had Irish, English, American and Indian writers with Rushdie,” Schuchard said, “and now [the series will] have the Peruvian novelist Llosa, who really is a world-class figure and has a great world following. He is very actively involved in modern literature as a novelist, a playwright, an essayist, a literary critic and also a political figure.”

In 1990, Vargas Llosa ran for his country’s presidency against Alberto Fujimori, a Peruvian engineer of Japanese descent. Vargas Llosa lost, though 10 years later his opponent fled Peru in disgrace following a corruption scandal.

Vargas Llosa was born in Arequipa, Peru, in 1936. He studied literature and law at the University of San Marcos in Lima from 1955–57 before attending graduate school in Spain at the University of Madrid, where he received his Ph.D. in 1959. He wrote his dissertation on his soon-to-be Colombian literary peer, Gabriél García Marquéz, and his first collection of short stories, Los Jefes, appeared the same year he received his doctorate.

Vargas Llosa’s first novel, The Time of the Hero, was published three years later to instant acclaim. He went on to write The Green House (1966), The War of the End of the World (1981) and The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta (1984), among other works.

“Many people [in this country] have not read him,” Schuchard said, “but he’s really quite an extraordinary man of letters. He has the background, as a literary critic and journalist and very productive novelist, playwright, man of many genres, to step out of his writing and address something that will be of great interest to the Emory audience.”

Schuchard said he is encouraging faculty to incorporate Llosa into reading lists for their classes this semester and next, and he will try to market the 2006 Ellmann Lectures to the wider Latin American community in Atlanta.

“This is a rare opportunity,” he said.