cover image Making Waves: Essays

Making Waves: Essays

Mario Vargas Llosa. Farrar Straus Giroux, $27.5 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-374-20038-1

This varied collection of essays, written over three decades and appearing in publications worldwide, traces the development of Vargas Llosa's thinking on government, society and culture. An expatriate, he regards his native Peru with ""a hatred steeped in tenderness,"" and the piece titled ""Literature and Exile"" is a moving apologia for his residence in Europe, where he has spent most of his adult life. (He took up dual Spanish and Peruvian nationality in the early 1990s after his unsuccessful bid for the presidency of Peru.) Vargas Llosa's luminous essays on literature embody a heroic view of writers as lonely rebels struggling against indifference and contempt; ""Literature Is Fire"" is a feisty manifesto proclaiming that ""the raison d'etre of a writer is protest, disagreement and criticism."" The pieces reveal a youthful and exuberantly idealistic Marxist slowly yielding, as if inexorably, to a radical liberalism born of a disillusionment with revolutionary politics. Ultimately, in ""A Fleeting Impression of Vaclav Havel,"" Vargas Llosa is inspired by the steadfastness of his fellow writer turned politician, who was never a Marxist and was therefore less susceptible to depression despite years in prison: ""Havel proves that one can always do something."" Ever tantalized by an insatiable hunger for beauty and justice, Vargas Llosa is a writer of great integrity and humor, and this new volume will be treasured by those who relish the brilliance and clarity of his prose. (June)