Harsh times

by Vargas Llosa, Mario, 1936-

Format: Print Book 2021
Availability: Available at 5 Libraries 5 of 8 copies
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The true story of Guatemala's political turmoil of the 1950s as only a master of fiction can tell it

Guatemala, 1954. The military coup perpetrated by Carlos Castillo Armas and supported by the CIA topples the government of Jacobo Árbenz. Behind this violent act is a lie passed off as truth, which forever changes the development of Latin America: the accusation by the Eisenhower administration that Árbenz encouraged the spread of Soviet Communism in the Americas. 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.

In this thrilling novel, Mario Vargas Llosa fuses reality with two fictions: that of the narrator, who freely re-creates characters and situations, and the one designed by those who would control the politics and the economy of a continent by manipulating its history.

Harsh Times is a gripping, revealing novel that directly confronts recent history. No one is better suited to tell this riveting story than Vargas Llosa, and there is no form better for it than his deeply textured fiction. Not since The Feast of the Goat , his classic novel of the downfall of Trujillo's regime in the Dominican Republic, has Vargas Llosa combined politics, characters, and suspense so unforgettably.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Peruvian Nobel laureate Vargas Llosa's latest novel dramatizes political turmoil in 1950s Guatemala while also revealing current anxieties about the untidy boundary between fiction and reality. We begin with a seemingly authoritative account of the United Fruit Company's banana monopoly and the U.S. government's dedication to rooting out a largely imaginary communist menace. But as the narrative slides toward the 1954 military coup, Vargas Llosa depicts behind-the-scenes interactions and figures not found in the history books. Among the latter is Martita Borrero Parra, aka Miss Guatemala, who becomes a mistress to both President Carlos Castillo Armas and operative Johnny Abbes García, who (along with Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo) readers may recall from Vargas Llosa's masterwork, The Feast of the Goat (2001). Although she's the closest thing this novel has to a protagonist, Miss Guatemala defies easy classification as villain or victim, survivor or cliché. Decades later, a first-person narrator (implied to be Vargas Llosa himself) visits Miss Guatemala in Virginia and finds an 80-year-old Trump supporter who dodges questions about the CIA and threatens to sue the writer. Thematically, it's classic Vargas Llosa in its obsession with power struggles, military hierarchies, and brothels. But it's also an unsettling reminder of the complicated relationship between storytelling and politics."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Peruvian Nobel laureate Vargas Llosa (The Neighborhood) spins a complex and mostly propulsive tale of deception, centered on Guatemala's political strife during the 1950s and '60s. The Eisenhower administration latches onto a lie about communism taking root in the country via president Jacobo Árbenz, propagated by juggernaut banana importer United Fruit, which faces taxes for the first time under Árbenz's regime. As part of its containment policy, and hoping to appease the company, the U.S. backs Lt. Col. Carlos Castillo Armas's successful coup d'état. Once in power, the married Armas takes a lover, Marta Borrero Parra, who advises him and acts as conduit to his ear. Meanwhile, Dominican Johnny Abbes García is sent to Guatemala by his own country's political leaders, who feel jilted by Armas, to orchestrate Armas's assassination. Johnny takes a shine to Marta and befriends Armas's director of security, Enrique Trinidad Oliva, with whom he plans the president's murder. Vargas Llosa follows this trio up to and beyond Armas's demise, as Johnny and Marta abscond to the Dominican Republic while Enrique is thrown in prison, and he employs a lovely Rashomon-style narration of Armas's death through multiple perspectives. The fragmented storytelling leads to unnecessary murkiness at some points, but once the action kicks in, everything falls into place. Vargas Llosa writes with confidence and authority, and overall this hits the mark. (Nov.)"
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Additional Information
Subjects United States. -- Central Intelligence Agency -- Fiction.
Political violence -- Guatemala -- History -- 20th century -- Fiction.
Guatemala -- History -- Revolution, 1954 -- Fiction.
Political fiction.
Historical fiction.
Publisher New York :Farrar, Straus and Giroux,2021
Edition First American edition.
Other Titles Tiempos recios.
Contributors West, Adrian Nathan, translator.
Language English
In English; translated from the Spanish.
Notes Original title: Tiempos recios.
Awards Winner of The Nobel Prize in Literature.
Description 288 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN 9780374601232
Other Classic View