The Storyteller: A Novel
Mario VARGAS LLOSA
ABOUT THE BOOK
In this dazzling novel, Vargas Llosa shows that “story-telling can be something more than mere entertainment.” In alternating chapters, he tells the story of Saul Zuratas, a Peruvian Jew who becomes a “hablador” (storyteller) to the Machiguengas–a tribe still wandering the Amazon jungle–and the tribe’s stories themselves. The examination of the roles of anthropologists and ecologists in preserving the integrity of native societies is here explicit, and the good reader reaps the rewards of a novel that tackles major political issues as it fulfills the basic human need to tell and hear stories. A well-written work, demanding that we think about the results of acculturation and ecological disaster.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈmaɾjo ˈβarɣaz ˈʎosa]; born March 28, 1936) is a Peruvian writer, politician, journalist, essayist, and Nobel Prize laureate. Vargas Llosa is one of Latin America’s most significant novelists and essayists, and one of the leading authors of his generation. Some critics consider him to have had a larger international impact and worldwide audience than any other writer of the Latin American Boom. He was awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature “for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat”.
At a small gallery in Florence, a Peruvian writer happens upon a photograph of a tribal storyteller deep in the jungles of the Amazon. He is overcome with the eerie sense that he knows this man…that the storyteller is not an Indian at all but an old school friend, Saul Zuratas. As recollections of Zuratas flow through his mind, the writer begins to imagine Zuratas’s transformation from a modern to a central member of the unacculturated Machiguenga tribe. Weaving the mysteries of identity, storytelling, and truth, Vargas Llosa has created a spellbinding tale of one man’s journey from the modern world to our origins, abandoning one in order to find meaning in both.
“Brilliant . . . A whole culture is contained within these dreamy narratives.”–Raymond Sokolov, The Wall Street Journal
“It is in the chapters narrated by the storyteller that the novel comes wonderfully alive, transporting the reader to a world where men hang suspended in a delicate web of cosmic relationships.”–Mark Dery, The Philadelphia Enquirer
WHY I LOVED THIS BOOK
This year, following book blogs more closely, I waited with impatience for the Nobel Prize of Literature to be awarded…. to discover, at my own shame, that I had NEVER read anything by this author, and maybe even never heard his name.
This novel was the only one left at my library – so it seems that other readers DO pay attention to literary awards-.
I have to say I had a hard time going into it, because of the translation I’m sure – lots of weird constructions, not flowing well, mainly at the beginning of the book. it seems that once the translator got going, she improved! – which makes sense, according to my own experiences as a translator!
But as my literary habits were lead during many years by St Benedict, who urges you to keep reading a book once you have started it, I persevered, and I am glad I did.
This is quite different from any other book I have read, with its mix of Amazonian tales -and I knew nothing about them, of reflections on the place of nature in our lives, and of encouragement to find your self-identity and stick to it for survival sake, all of this in the midst of a story built into a story.
There are also lots of political undertones, as well as religious, for instance with a “symbolization” of the Jewish wandering and history, about 30 pages before the end. I was actually surprised at how clear it was, maybe a bit too clear.
This gives me the desire to read another of his novels, but I will try next time in Spanish directly, to enhance the enjoyment.
HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK
OR ANOTHER ONE BY VARGAS LLOSA?
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