The Discreet Hero by Mario Vargas Llosa (Translated by Edith Grossman) - review by Miranda France

Miranda France

Piuran of the Year

The Discreet Hero


Faber & Faber 326pp £20 order from our bookshop

Recent years have brought forth powerful and violent fictions from Latin America, including Juan Villalobos’s and Laura Restrepo’s nightmarish meditations on the drugs trade, Evelio Rosero on state terror in Colombia and the dislocated cult novels of Roberto Bolaño. Given such nerve-jangling reading, it’s reassuring to be back with Mario Vargas Llosa in a landscape so familiar it even contains some of his old characters, as well as themes that have run through his work since the 1960s.

The English title loses a subtle double meaning: in Spanish discreto can mean ‘discrete’ as well as ‘discreet’. This is significant, for The Discreet Hero is about two bold men, in different parts of Peru, whose lives mirror each other even though they have no connection, except a loose familial

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