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Harsh Times

Mario Vargas Llosa

The new novel from the Nobel Prize-winning master of fiction — the true story of Guatemala’s political turmoil of the 1950s.

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“A wildly enjoyable book; the 85-year-old Vargas Llosa is as sharp and mordantly funny as ever.” Financial Times
“A compelling and propulsive literary thriller.” Hari Kunzru, New York Times Book Review
“A splendidly rich and absorbing novel.” The Scotsman

“Compelling . . . full of intrigue, backstabbing and shifting power dynamics.” Irish Times

Guatemala, 1954. A CIA-supported military coup topples the government. Behind this violent act is a lie passed off as truth, which forever changed the development of Latin America: that those in power encouraged the spread of Soviet communism in the Americas.

Mario Vargas Llosa has written a drama on a world stage, in which some persecutors end up as victims of the very plot they helped construct. Ironic and sensual, provocative and redemptive, Harsh Times is a story of international conspiracies and conflicting interests in the time of the Cold War, the echoes of which are still felt today.

Critic Reviews

Vibrant and contemporary . . . Adrian Nathan West has done a spectacular job, delivering a novel whose sentences sing on the page, and whose complex chronology never threatens to confuse . . . A wildly enjoyable book; the 85-year-old Vargas Llosa is as sharp and mordantly funny as ever.

Alex Preston, Financial Times
Critic Reviews

Harsh Times, which covers the same years as The Feast of the Goat, is not so much a sequel to the earlier book as an expansion of it, the new novel interwoven with the previous one, filling in gaps and deepening our understanding . . . Vargas Llosa has constructed a compelling and propulsive literary thriller, deeply informed by his experience as a public intellectual and a practicing politician.

Hari Kunzru, New York Times Book Review
Critic Reviews

The blending of fact and fiction results in a busy, compelling narrative, full of intrigue, backstabbing and shifting power dynamics… history comes to life through the skilful rendering of character.

Irish Times
Critic Reviews

A splendidly rich and absorbing novel.

The Scotsman
Critic Reviews

Harsh Times is a quietly propulsive novel of machinations and recriminations — a well-wrought portrait of the squalid intrigue that constitutes, in the sardonic words of Vargas Llosa’s narrator, “the eternal story of Central America”.

Sunday 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.

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