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Mario Vargas Llosa

Mario Vargas Llosa (born March 28, 1936) is currently regarded as one of Latin America's leading novelists and essayists. Born in Arequipa, Peru to a middle class family, he attended Peruvian private and military schools, and attended graduate school in Spain and received a PhD from the University of Madrid in 1959. He first gained attention for La Ciudad y los Perros (1962, trans. in English as The Time of The Hero 1963), based on his teenage experiences at a strict military academy.

His work often critiqued the hierarchy of social class and race present in contemporary Peru and Latin America. Many of his works were also autobiographical in nature, as La casa verde (The Green House) (1966) and Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (1977). His sweeping 1981 historical novel The War of the End of The World was set in 19th-century Brazilian Sertao, and based on actual events in Brazilian history, the rebellion of Sebastianist millenarist followers of Antonio Conselheiro in Canudos.

During the 1980s, Vargas Llosa became politically active, and surprised many with his neoliberal views, as many his contemporaries and colleagues were outspoken leftists. He ran for the presidency of Peru in 1990 and lost to Alberto Fujimori. During the campaign, his opponents radioed racy passages of his works to the nation.

He left Peru. He was awarded the Spanish citizenship by José María Aznar's government lest Fujimori removed his Peruvian one. He resided in London, though. He is a member of the Real Academia Española, the Spanish institution that tries to steer the evolution of the Spanish language.

After living more than thirty years in Europe, Vargas Llosa recently returned to live in Lima. He continues to write historical novels such as The Feast of the Goat (2000, English trans. 2001), an account of the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo.

His last work (as of 2003) is about Paul Gauguin and Flora Tristan.