The Discreet Hero

Mario Vargas Llosa

A novel about love and betrayal, a younger generation that can no longer tell the difference between reality and desire, and the destructive effects of media fantasies.

Date Published
All orders are sent via Royal Mail and are tracked: choose from standard or premium delivery.

Felicito Yanaque has raised himself from poverty to ownership of a trucking business. His two sons work for him. He receives a threatening letter demanding protection money. The police don’t take him seriously, Felicito refuses to pay up and gets sucked into a nightmare. He becomes a reluctant public hero. Then his mistress is kidnapped, and matters become seriously complicated. And he finds that his troubles have begun very close to home.

His fate is interwoven with the story of Rigoberto, a wealthy Lima insurance executive. His boss and old friend, Ismael, suddenly announces that he is marrying his housekeeper, a chola from Piura, to the consternation of his twin sons, a pair of brutal wasters. Ismael escapes to Europe with his new bride, leaving Rigoberto to face the twins’ threats, and their claims that he connived with a scheming woman to rob an old man of his fortune. Rigoberto is hounded by the press and TV. Meanwhile, his only son is having visions of a mysterious stranger who may or may not be the devil…

Critic Reviews

This, in a quiet way, is a remarkable novel - not least in the way that Vargas Llosa, contrary to accepted wisdom, succeeds in rendering his "good" characters far more vividly than their "bad" counterparts.

Rachel Campbell-Johnson, The Times
Critic Reviews

[T]he reversals and betrayals of the book's interlocking plots owe as much to telenovelas as the writings of Isaiah Berlin. The characters may feel that civilisation - real civilisation - is always threatened by malice, but the warmth and energy of the novel, and the genial presence of its author, negate the bleakness of this moral.

Marcel Theroux, Guardian
Critic Reviews

[An] expansive and engrossing imaginative world.

Peter Kemp, Sunday Times
Critic Reviews

The book is often funny; you turn the pages with relish; it offers up plenty to think about and admire; ... it immerses you in the way you hope any novel will immerse you.

Francisco Goldman, New York Times
Critic Reviews

A fulfillment of themes and characters that have populated [Mario Vargas Llosa's] work for decades ... An energetic book.

Thomas Mallon, New Yorker
Critic Reviews

The Discreet Hero is simultaneously exotic and familiar in the way that all great literature seems to be. Its ease is that of a master playing at his craft, using danger, fear, evil and empathy to carry the reader along.

Jane Smiley, Los Angeles Times
MarioVargas Llosa

Mario Vargas Llosa was born in Peru in 1936. He is the author of some of the last half-century’s most important novels, including The War of the End of the World, The Feast of the Goat, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter and Conversation in the Cathedral. In 2010 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Read More
MarioVargas Llosa
More books by Mario Vargas Llosa