Mario Vargas Llosa has been awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize For Literature. The Lit prizes have become a bit of a joke over the last decade or so as a series of countries, continents and languages get ticked off the list by the Swedish Academy. The Swedes are worried about American domination of world culture so there's hasn't been an American winner for some time and they also don't give the prize to anyone who is politically right of centre which means that Les Murray or David Mamet shouldn't hold their breaths. Saying all that though, Vargas Llosa is a terrific choice. I've read a half a dozen of his books and several of his essays. He writes with an urbane, detached, often very funny voice and he's very readable. It was Vargas Llosa that made me want to go to Peru, not the gloomy heights of Macchu Piccu. I liked this little nugget from the BBC news story:
The author once had a great friendship with Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, about whom he wrote his doctoral thesis in 1971. But their relationship turned into one of literature's greatest feuds after Vargas Llosa punched Garcia Marquez at a theatre in Mexico City in 1976, leaving him with a black eye. The pair have never disclosed the reason for their dispute, although witnesses have suggested they fell out over a conversation between Garcia Marquez and Vargas Llosa's wife. In the intervening years, the authors fell out politically, too, with the Peruvian publicly criticising Garcia Marquez's friendship with Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Relations appeared to thaw in 2007, however, when Vargas Llosa provided the foreword to the 40th anniversary edition of Garcia Marquez's classic work, A Hundred Years of Solitude. After the Nobel announcement on Thursday, Garcia Marquez - himself a Nobel laureate - tweeted: "Cuentas iguales" ("Now we're even").
You can read the rest of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's tweets here: http://twitter.com/elgabo.
And no, I don't know what Vargas Llosa is wearing in the photograph. I think maybe he's just returned from a visit to the future.