The dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa

dream of the Celt Mario Vargas Llosa

The dream of the Celt  by Mario Vargas Llosa

Peruvian Fiction

Translator – Edith Grossman

Original Title -El sueño del celta

Source Library

Just other two yyears ago after he had won the Nobel prize for Literature I reviewed his novel the bad Girl which I enjoyed ,this is his latest book published in Spanish in 2010 ,this translation was published last Year and done by the Wonderful Edith Grossman .Mario Vargas is easily the most well known name from Peruvian fiction this book is his 15th novel in a career that dates back to 1959 and the start of the Latin American Boom .

When in Liverpool with his cousins ,Roger sometimes conquered his timidity and Asked Uncle Edward about Africa ,a vontinent whose mere mention filled his head with Jungles ,wild animals and interpid men .

The first time we see the draw of Africa on Roger Casement

This book focus on the well Known Irish nationalist figure Sir Roger Casement ,I say well-known before I read the book I knew he was associated with Ireland had been executed by the british and he was part of some sort of scandal .So to the book Yes Roger Casement was from Ireland and the book takes you through his youth there then to time spent in Africa ,Peru and the amazon basin then back to Ireland .The book is about a man’s journey  Form Idealist , British Diplomat to Disillusioned ,humanitarian and Irish freedom Fighter .We see  this youth In Ballymena (just thought mention this it isn’t a large part but my step mother is also from this town in Northern Ireland ) he is a quiet and quite shy young man growing up much different to the figure he later became ,Then in his late teens  joining the British government as a diplomat . Where he ends up being sent to Congo ,where he see the horrors of the dying embers of the slave traders and How the white Europeans treat the natives ,whilst in Congo he meet two well-known figures in History ,the Explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley and the Novelist Joseph Conrad .Then he is sent to sort out and report back on a dispute in Peru involving the Local tribes of Indians Seven in all and The rubber company .The Indians have decided they need more rights ,because we see people whip and mistreated for not following the company lines or doing what was expected .Following all this he returns to Ireland where his views on his own home land and nation have changed radically and he ends up on the Gaol waiting to be killed  .Well  a lot as you see ,oh and he was gay and tend to like younger men than himself (rather well handle by Llosa it is easy to make this the main theme of the book ,which it could but this is a book on the wrongs of Empire really ) at a time when this was against the law .

O what has made that sudden noise?
What on the threshold stands?
It never crossed the sea because
John Bull and the sea are friends;
But this is not the old sea
Nor this the old seashore.
What gave that roar of mockery,
That roar in the sea’s roar?

The ghost of Roger Casement
Is beating on the door.

John Bull has stood for Parliament,
A dog must have his day,
The country thinks no end of him,
For he knows how to say,
At a beanfeast or a banquet,
That all must hang their trust
Upon the British Empire,
Upon the Church of Christ.

The ghost of Roger Casement
Is beating on the door.

Instead of a second quote I choose to put two verse of the W B yeats poem about Casement which is also quoted in the book

So I suppose like me reading this book on the blurb , the first name that came to mind with this book Is Conrad ,Yes it is similar settings but this is more a view of the natives downfall through a European eyes that Conrad’s books are ,I was also reminded of the recent novels by Bernardo  Atxaga  seven house in France  which I review  here and other book dealing with  the horrors in the Congo at roughly the same time as this book .Another book Ithat sprung to mind was the last but one book by Juan Gabriel Vasquez which I also reviewed on here The secret history of Costaguana another book which set in Latin america and based on a Conrad novel .Vargas has tried to show through one man the wrongs of empire and also how empires are able to fall .The horror of the treatment the locals around the world is eye-opening to you as a reader ,but also to Casement and lead him down a new path seeing these horrors .

Have you read this book ?


The Blue hour by Alonso Cueto

The Blue Hour by Alonso Cueto

Peruvian fiction

Translated by Frank Wynne

Alonso Cueto like his fellow Peruvian writer Santiago Roncagliolo is another rising star of spanish language fiction from Peru .Although older than Santiago he went to university in the Us .He complete his first novel in 1983 ,he is editor of the debate a peruvian magazine  and section in the newspaper El comercio and teaches at two universities .The blue hour is his first book to be translated to English .It won the Prestigious Premio Herralde de novela previous winners include Bolano ,Vila-Matas and Tsyzka .

They’ll recognise me or my wife Claudia .My wife Claudia .It feels strange calling her that as thou she was a stranger .The arc of her name reminds me of a rainbow – at least that’s what I told her last night .

Adrian on his wife .

The book is about the civil war in Peru the battle with the Shining path that last Ten year .Told through the story of Adrian Ormache ,a succesful lawyer from lima a man on the up a well-known man the son of the famous Colonel Ormache who had led many successful operations during the war against the Shining path .But all that is about to change as his mother dies and the is a dark secret in his fathers past .His view of his father is changed beyond belief the shining Naval officer he saw as his father turn out to be a torturer and rapist ,the solders he left to killed at will .Then there is a women his father had an affair with Miriam a prisoner  who he may have let escape ,what has she to tell Adrian .He starts to trouble who he is ,after he is so wrong about who is father was and then wondered why his mother did nothing .We see a patchwork of lies,brutality ,misery and violence face Adrian in his search for the truth .Will him and Claudia and his two lovely daughters ever be the same .

Suddenly in a rush that surprised  even me ,I remembered something else .I wasn’t sure whether it was something I had actually heard or something I  simply imagined.I dimly remembered that just before his fight with Guayo ,Chacho had told me that when she ran away ,Miriam wa pregnant

I jotted down

7 possibly …..

Adrian making a list of what he needs to find out .after his mothers death .

Well its easy to compare this to Red April Santiago’s book I mean they are both about the shining path ,both writers from Lima ,both are very realist writers yes it be easy but they are different in so many ways .  this is a book about families as much as it is about  Peru ‘s recent past ,the relationships we find  in families Father  to son ,mother to son ,parents to children  and husband and wife and what happens when war ,lies and sex get in the way of this oh and throw in a pretty young women from the other side .You may be feeling sorry for Adrian after reading what I put in the second paragraph , but don’t he isn’t going through this pain to cleanse himself .No he is shallow lawyer wanting to climb greasy pole  and is worried how these revelations will affect him in the eyes of his peers a .He is the classic guy that want to find something out but only to hide it away at a later date a classic anti-hero and a bit of a bastard rather like his father and maybe as the books goes on you see more of the father in the son ,We also learn that in a big city like Lima where the book is set ,there are many different people all within a small area and you may even be connect with the ones on the bottom if your near the top  .If  I want to compare him to a latin american writer .I think Cueto is closer to Juan Carlos Onetti in style Onetti a writer of existentialists movement a pessimist in what he  wrote of life in all its myriads and the man Cueto wrote his dissertation  on  is maybe the writer I most see in his work that and some of LLosa how of course being the most successful Peruvian writer must be an inspiration to all current writers .

What Peruvian fiction you read ?

Do you like books with a narrator you may not like ?#

Red April by Santiago Roncagiolo

Source – library

Translator – Edith Grossman

Santiago Roncagiolo is a peruvian writer ,grew up in the city of Arequipa ,his father is well-known political analyst in peru ,which meant he lived for a time growing up in exile .He has lived in Barcelona  since 2000 ,due cleaning jobs at first then spots of writing for papers like El Pais ,red april is his first novel to be translated into English.he has so far written five novels ,and he has one of his books filmed in spain .

Red april is set in the year 2000 in the small town of Ayacucho ,during holy week a serial killer is found to be on the lose ,this is at the time peru is just coming out of an extreme regime and  the terrorist group shining path .This leads to suspicions growing through the town .The government send a man from lima to investigate the crime and find the person committing the crimes .this man Felix gets tangled up and finds people that he is talking to die as the lines between the past and the present blur ,people s connections to the past come to light and he struggles to get to grip with what is happening .He finds the past is still ever-present in people’s thoughts .Also is the shining path still operating even thou the government says it isn’t these are all questions that need answers .

“Felix ,eight years ago ,if I went out they would kill .Not now .The dammm terrorists killed my mother ,they killed my brother ,they took away my sister so the damm solder could kill her afterward .since the president took office ,they haven’t killed me or anybody else in my family .You want me to vote for somebody else ? i don’t understand why ?

Felix faces people’s pasts as he tries to find the truth .

This book isn’t one I would normally choose as I m not huge fan of  thrillerish books but as it was on the Independent foreign fiction shortlist ,I thought I d give it a whirl and as Llhosa was the only over peruvian writer I d read I thought  d like to try one of the younger generation of writers post -latin american boom writers ,I like Santiago’s honesty about his homelands dark recent past and tackle it well using the present and a crime now unconnected to the past as a way to address the distant past .Felix is a great character like the typical outsider he sees thinks different and also has an open mind but he does get involved far to easily ,he has an eye for the ladies and this makes him vulnerable at times ,as he starts his relationship with a young women called Edith that isn’t all she seems at times .The book is gruesome in places as we see the actions that happen during the conflict on both sides the tremendous loss of life and the shattered life’s left behind mothers without children ,children without parents .I was reminded at times of Bolano in the style of writing and the way he use the story to tackle the past .the book was well translated by Edith Grossman as IO would expect she does a lot of latin american literature .

Have you read this book ?

Do you like books that tackle difficult subjects ?

THE BAD GIRL BY Mario Vargas Llosa

Well I had this down to rea on my around the world in 52 books list .Having read a couple many years ago by him ,after seeing the aunt Julia film which had a great performance from Peter Falk .Well if you didn’t know Mario won this years Nobel prize being the first Nobel winner from south America since Gabriel Garcia Marquez in 1982 .Mario Vargas Llosa was born in the Peruvian provinces in late thirties ,he went to military academy the subject of his first novel ,his books are both historic and have modern-day setting he often uses his own life experiences in his books .

The bad girl follows the life of Ricardo ,we meet him as a teenager in the 50’s in lima a love affair with lily or as in the title the bad girl starts and ends due to the difference in class etc ,Ricardo does well in his studies and ends up in paris working as a translator in numerous languages ,this is in the sixties so there is a backdrop of the city in the sixties with its protests and bohemian atmosphere ,Ricardo meets Comrade Arlette ,this women reminds him of lily in so many ways they have a passionate affair ,the book continues on the same path him traveling to different cities and meet women with the spirit of Lilly and having increasingly passionate and kinky love affairs .this takes us through london ,Tokyo back to peru and ending up in paris ,all this with a sparkling cast of friends including a mute boy .We see the history of times hippies ,seventies and Japans rise .

My only contact with Peru ,for by now I rarely saw Peruvians in paris ,continued to be the increasingly desperate letters from uncle Ataulfo and Aunt Delores always sent me regards in her own hand ,and from time to time I would send her scores for playing the piano was great diversion in her invalid life .

Ricardo family struggles at home in Peru unde General Alvarado’s dictatorship  .

Now I loved this Llosa has a real flow to his writing that draws you in bit by bit ,there is a lot of sex in this book but it is well written and helps the plot also gives you the true scope of the affair or affairs there is a question whether it is the same women or different women with the same spirit this isn’t answered but I felt form a man falls for the same spirit in different bodies ,the affair is a life long passion the encompasses the world ,these part the cities and times they were written really feel like they are from Llosa own life and that he’d been in paris and in London and Tokyo during the periods described in the book .Worthy nobel winner yes his books are always readable and  meaningful .Like Aunt Julia that was made into a film I could see this novel-making the move into a great film .The book is translated by Edith Grossman ,she has previously tranlated 5 of his books previously as you’d expect is perfection from the best translator of Latin American fiction

Have you read him ?

have you seen the films made of his books ?

May 2018
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