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The life and times of Mario Vargas Llosa

  • Published at 08:09 pm April 16th, 2018
  • Last updated at 06:47 pm April 18th, 2018
The life and times of Mario Vargas Llosa
Razu Alauddin, a poet and translator, translates into Bangla from original Spanish works of Latin American fiction. He also writes essays and scholarly articles on masters such as Jorges Luis Borges, Gabriel García Márquez and Carlos Fuentes, among many others. But this time he’s shifted his focus on Mario Vargas Llosa and translated a unique coffee table book on the writer, enriched both with biographical snippets and analytical notes on his fiction. Though Bangla translation of some of his stories and novels is available in Bangladesh, scholarly works on his life and works are rarely seen. Razu’s translation will fill in that gap. Mario Vargas Llosa is a distinct name in world literature. This Peruvian writer is a winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature. In his fictional works, he’s portrayed stories and lives of people from many parts of the world. His books have been translated into more than 30 languages. Widely admired for his mastery over the psychology of his characters, he is regarded as one of the biggest and most widely read authors after Borges and Márquez. Published by Sakkhat Publication, the book, Mario Vargas Llosar Jibon O Mithyar Satya, is a rare collection of photographs showing many aspects of Llosa’s life as well as his literary career. It is different from other books on Llosa. Not focusing on bland, encyclopedic description, it highlights rare events of the writer’s life with photos and text. It has been translated from the original Spanish,  Mario Vargas Llosa: La vida y la libertad. However, in the Bangla version, Raju has added some additional chapters alongside the original ones, which will help readers to learn Llosa’s life in greater detail. Born in 1936 in the southern Peruvian provincial city of Arequipa, Llosa began working as an amateur journalist for tabloid newspapers at the age of 16. At 23, he published his first short story collection, Los jefes. His first novel, La ciudad y los perros, was published when he was 26 years old. It earned him the Premio Biblioteca Breve award, the youngest ever recipient of the award. Though he wrote novels prolifically, his works also include essays, plays, stories and poems.
This is indeed a timely venture in our translation, which is sure to broaden the horizon of Latin American fiction in our country.
The first chapter of the book in Raju’s translation, “Jibon Bidrohi Ek Toruner Protidin,” sheds light on his early life, from his childhood to 2007. Llosa fans will learn about his lives in different cities of the world: Arequipa, Cochabamba, Peura, Lima, Madrid, Paris, London and Barcelona. The second chapter features photos collected by Llosa, and also details his early stories, plays and student life. The third chapter includes Llosa’s list of favorite writers: William Faulkner, Gustave Flaubert, Thomas Mann, Victor Hugo, Leo Tolstoy, Juan Carlos Onetti, Miguel de Cervantes and Jorge Luis Borges. Readers will learn Llosa’s impression of these great writers with a comprehensive list of awards and recognition received by him. Llosa was into politics and participated in the presidential election from Frente Democrático in 1990. The chapter, “Rajniti,” records his political philosophy, with pictorial depictions of his campaign, rallies and processions. Llosa also had a brilliant journalistic career, working with different magazines, newspapers and international dailies. As a journalist, he worked in France and the Middle East; he also worked as a TV journalist. His observation on journalism is precious: “Journalism is the highest independent work, a way to know recent issues and problems. There is no alternative to journalism in strengthening democracy and ensuring justice.” The book discusses Llosa’s journalistic stint and photographs in Israel, Iraq and Palestine. The book includes The Paris Review’s long interview of Llosa by Ricardo Augusto Setti. It has a chapter named “Birol Songjojon,” which contains Llosa’s rare works that have not been translated into any language, not even into English. Interestingly enough, the book contains his essay, “Weaker Sex,” which delves into issues of women in Bangladesh. This is indeed a timely venture in our translation, which is sure to broaden the horizon of Latin American fiction in our country. It will also come in handy when researching Llosa’s fiction.