More Mario Vargas Llosa Celebration, and Where to Eat in D.C.

In case Nick Gillespie's earlier post about today's Nobel Prize winning novelist who is "one of the preeminent public intellectuals of the post-war era and one of the great libertarian heroes of the age" whet your appetite for more Vargas Llosa love, below are two more tidbits about the worthy winner (and Reason contributor)—plus some tips about how to find great restaurants in D.C. First:

It is 31 years since Mario Vargas Llosa punched Gabriel García Márquez in the face. It happened like this. "Mario!" exclaimed Márquez happily on seeing his old literary chum after a film premiere in Mexico City. He marched towards the Peruvian, arms outstretched as if for an embrace. "How dare you come and greet me after what you did to Patricia in Barcelona!" Vargas Llosa reportedly shouted and decked the Colombian with a right hook. Mexican writers ran around looking for steaks to put on the Colombian's eye. Patricia, it turns out, was Mario's wife. The two men have reportedly never spoken since. So began one of the greatest rows in literary history.

The incident ended with a steak on Marquez's eye. While the feud may have started over a woman, it has continued in the realm of politics:

In addition to trying to encourage peace in Colombia, his civil-war-ravaged native country, Garcia Marquez continued to support the Cuban communist leader Fidel Castro, with whom he developed a close association. The upside was that he used it to mediate talks in Cuba between Colombia's government and its Marxist guerrillas....

For his part, Vargas Llosa was scathing about his former friend's links to Castro, calling him "the courtier". How, he asked, when large parts of the world's intellectual community had become critical of the Cuban revolution, over issues such as censorship and the treatment of anti-Castro artists, could Garcia Marquez always remain so loyal to the dictator? (Vargas Llosa was not alone; it was even hinted by Garcia Marquez's political detractors that his defence of Caribbean socialism had helped him to win the Nobel Prize when he was not much older than 50.)

And, while Garcia Marquez cosied up to Castro, Vargas Llosa was travelling in the opposite political direction. He became increasingly active politically in his native Peru and steadily took on more right-wing economic views. In 1990, he ran for the presidency on a centre-right ticket, proposing a drastic austerity programme that would have hit the country's poorest people hardest. He won 34 per cent of the vote but was defeated by an agricultural engineer named Alberto Fujimori.

More recently, in the 2006 presidential elections in Peru, he campaigned in favour of a strongly conservative candidate, and asked "how it is possible that at least a third of Peruvians want a return to dictatorship, authoritarianism, a subjugated press, judicial manipulation, impunity and the systematic abuse of human rights". Which is by no means how Garcia Marquez sees things.

Second: Vargas Llosa is a favorite of libertarian economist and Marginal Revolution blogger Tyler Cowen. And when it comes to matters of taste, it always pays to do what Tyler says. While there are those who ask themselves What Would Tyler Durden Do?, I prefer a milder cultural mentor.

Every year for Christmas, my husband gets me a box of books. A big box. This year, it was stuffed with selections from Cowen's list of favorite books, and while virtually all of the books were hits, the clear winner was Mario Vargas Llosa's The War of the End of the World. Many of the themes from his two essays for Reason are present in this brilliant 1981 novel. It's great starter Vargas Llosa, for anyone looking to dip into his fiction.

Bonus Cowen-Vargas Llosa connection: In an astonishing example of the social payoffs of neurodiversity, Cowen has visited what seems to be every single strip mall or otherwise down-at-the-heels ethnic restaurant in the entire D.C. area. He writes up the winners in a popular Ethnic Dining Guide. Wondering where to go for dinner in D.C.? Just let Cowen tell you what to do.He'll even guide you to an excellent Peruvian restaurant, if you're looking for a place to celebrate tonight!

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  • Abdul||

    I can totally vouch for the Ethnic Dining Guide--it's never let me down.

  • ||

    I have a question: When a vegan gets popped in the eye, what do they put on it? Some cold tofu?

  • Pip||

    Seiten

  • Pip||

    I meant Seitan:

    http://www.solargourmet.de/bilder/080511_Seitan.jpg

  • ||

    Serutan?

  • Trespassers W||

    Seitan! Haduken!

  • ||

    Serutan is natures spelled backwards.

  • Abdul||

    Another fist.

  • ||

    Best possible answer.

  • Fluffy||

    +100

  • Ragin Cajun||

    Punch a hippie and find out!

  • robc||

    Punch a hippie and win a prize!

  • Colin||

    They're typically not so aggressive, so they don't have to worry about such things.

  • Concern Troll||

    Libertarians are peaceful anarchists.

  • cowen moonlights as reviewer||

    you mean tyler cowen the guy who reviews books he doesn't read? what a ringing endorsement! yay!

  • ||

    one of the preeminent public intellectuals of the post-war era

    What war?

  • ||

    The war. But don't mention it.

  • ||

    You started it!

  • ||

    Ve did not start it.

  • ||

    Yes you did, when you invaded Poland!

  • ||

    Maybe the funniest sit-com episode of all time.

  • ||

    Indeed! Maybe the funniest sit-com of all time. Manuel and his rat...so many.

  • ||

    So am i going to get an answer or what?

    What war?

  • ||

    I vote World War II. World War I just ended, after all.

  • Pip||

    The War on Drugs.

  • Manuel||

    I die here, Mr. Fawlty

  • Spiny Norman||

    I haven't been to DC since the Carter administration.

  • ||

    Don't worry, they haven't fixed that pothole at 22nd & P.

  • ||

    I prefer a mider cultural mentor.

    I think you mean "milder"

  • Extended Warren T||

    I think she meant Midol.

  • ||

    Last time I was in DC--back in the early Aughts, I think--I went to a very nice Malaysian restaurant. DC is a great ethnic restaurant city as far as variety goes.

  • robc||

    I will put up Louisville for ethnic restaurant diversity per capita vs anywhere. I would expect DC to be tough competition.

  • Pip||

    Minneapolis, hands down.

  • robc||

    Ive never been there, but based on the weird factoid that Louisvillians eat out more than the residents of any other city...Im gonna go with us. Also, despite this fact, lots of chains avoid Louisville because the locally owned restaurant density is too high. Not that we dont have a lot of chains too, but not as bad as some other places.

  • ||

    Tampa is a surprisingly good restaurant town and has a ton of ethnic options. Our problem is that everything is spread out.

  • robc||

    I cant comment much on Tampa (when I was there in December, I tried to find food within walking distance of my hotel and pretty much failed - I ended up in the restaurant bar of another hotel), but the cuban place walking distance from my house destroys, then nukes, then salts the land, then nukes again the cuban place within walking distance of my hotel in Miami last January. And it was decent.

  • ||

    We've got some really good Cuban and Spanish restaurants. But we've also got some you wouldn't expect--lots of Asian, for instance. We also have just about any variety of South American cuisine you can think of. My wife and I used to go to a Brazilian restaurant.

    Minneapolis is a good restaurant town--I lived there for a year. Not as good as here, but they have some really good places.

  • robc||

    We have what you would expect, bunch of asian varieties, south american, caribbean, and some oddities, like far more Bosnian restuarants than you would expect.

    We dont have a brazilian place, but our argentinian steakhouse is amazing.

  • Pip||

    Yes, we have a Brazilian place.

    http://www.fogodechao.com/

  • The Gobbler||

    There are a lot of Bosnian refugees in the Twin Cities. I like the north African restaurants that have opened up the last few years. The Blue Nile is quite good.

    http://www.bluenilempls.com/restaurant.html

  • Brett L||

    True story. I'm walking around Athens earlier this year, and engage a shop-owner in conversation. Turns out he spent a bunch of years in South Carolina and Florida.

    Guy pulls out a photo album. "Best Greek food in Tarpon Springs. Lots of Greeks there, but this is the best place."

  • ||

    There's a huge Greek community in Tarpon Springs, with some great food. I used to tell a friend of mine in law school--who was descended from Greeks who migrated to Chicago--that Tarpon Springs is where all the sane Greeks went who emigrated to the U.S. I mean, Chicago? It's friggin' cold there.

  • spur ||

    I seem to remember when Pinter won reason deemed it a shame - now that their man won its brilliant...
    I like both writers for what its worth

  • Old Mexican||

    He became increasingly active politically in his native Peru and steadily took on more right-wing economic views.

    There's no such thing as "right-wing economic views." There's sound economics and then there is mountebankism (i.e. Keynesianism/Neo-Classicism.)

  • ||

    How often do you get punched in the face?

  • The Gobbler||

    Not enough, that's for sure.

    I keed! I Keed!

  • Warty||

    You just fucked with the wrong Mexican.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: dbcooper,

    How often do you get punched in the face?

    I don't answer loaded questions.

    How often are you porked in the butt?

  • ||

    Hate to break it to you, but calling someone a bottom doesn't really cut it as an insult around here.

    When are you publishing your economics textbook, BTW?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: dbcooper,

    Hate to break it to you, but calling someone a bottom doesn't really cut it as an insult around here.

    Around where?

    When are you publishing your economics textbook, BTW?

    Would you read it?

  • ||

    I might, would it be better than Mankiw's? Would have a useful treatment of various macro-economic scenarios? Howsabout some game theory?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: dbcooper,

    I might, would it be better than Mankiw's?

    Depends - what do you mean by "better"? Does it mean "better in explaining economics", or "better in justifying the predatory nature of the State"?

    Would have a useful treatment of various macro-economic scenarios?

    Why? What would the the point?

    Howsabout some game theory?

    Again - why? Whatever for? I am being serious.

    Aso, wasn't Nash's equilibrium theorem supposed to explain "everything"?

  • Old Mexican||

    By the way, Mankiw's book is not really that good - like many other crackpots, he entertains the notion of "perfect competition," "externalities" and "market failure," as if these existed in real life.

  • ||

    Game Theory? I'm interested in the use of economics, mathematics, and simulations to optimise business/policy decisions and strategies. Probably due to taking Operations Research classes.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: dbcooper,

    I'm interested in the use of economics, mathematics, and simulations to optimise business/policy decisions and strategies.


    Take Decision Theory classes, then.
  • Warty||

    When I was 17 or so, I started to read One Hundred Years of Solitude. I made it three-quarters of the way through and then got too bored to continue. I guess I should give it another try, but...I dunno. It really sucked.

  • Pip||

    Still, that's like Seventy-Five Years of Solitude. I'm impressed.

  • Colin||

    I don't know. I liked it a lot -- wasn't even turned off by its politics.

    Give it another try.

  • Brett L||

    It certainly does feel like 100 years of solitude. I'm with you.

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    Doesn't that kind of ruin the solitude?

  • Brett L||

    It certainly does feel like 100 years of solitude. I'm with you.

  • Spoiler||

    The grandchild gets eaten by ants at the end.

  • ||

    Only after having sex with them.

  • Emily Litella||

    What's that? Mario Van Peebles won a nobel prize?

  • ||

    I made it three-quarters of the way through and then got too bored to continue.

    I couldn't even manage to slog through the bits Gillespie posted, earlier.

    Many years ago I found, in Indianapolis of all places, an excellent Peruvian restaurant. I doubt it's still there.

  • Warty||

    Mario's essays were a joy. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is who I'm bitching about here.

  • Pip||

    I had a friend who said her books were just fantasy rape victim porn.

  • Pip||

    Oops, I meant HIS books.

  • Warty||

    The only things that I remember from the book are that there was a guy who spent many years chained to a tree, and then there was a revolutionary soldier who joined with the Liberals so that he would be able to fuck his sister, or something like that.

    So yeah, your friend may be on to something.

  • ||

    I haven't been to DC since the Carter administration.

    Now that I think about it, neither have I.

  • Old Mexican||

    More recently, in the 2006 presidential elections in Peru, he campaigned in favour of a strongly conservative candidate, and asked "how it is possible that at least a third of Peruvians want a return to dictatorship, authoritarianism, a subjugated press, judicial manipulation, impunity and the systematic abuse of human rights".

    Mario, Peruvians want the return of the Sapa Inca - they prefer the certainty of slavery than the "chaos" of freedom. Happens not only in Peru but in many places in Latin America and, it seems, in the U.S. as well, since they voted for an inexperienced and clueless Tlatoani.

  • Warty||

    Some good comments on that Guardian link. Did you know that the Swedish Academy hates socialists?

    Garcia Marquez has been fairly consistent in his views about socialism and his support for the Cuban Revolution in very difficult circumstances and has refused to be a bootlicker of the American empire.I guess it was a rare nod from the Nobel Academy which elevated him to the rank of a Nobel Laureate,keeping in view his socialist views and support of the Cuban Revolution.
  • ||

    The phrase "bootlicker of the American empire" is like comfort food for blog nonsense gourmands.

  • ||

    "American empire?" What empire is that? Coming from Europeans, that's a laugh.

  • ||

    Speaking of leftist idiocy, the Labor Department is announcing that it "accidentally" undercounted job losses in 2009.

    By about a million.

    Oopsie!

  • ||

    That's interesting. I wonder why they're compelled to reveal their almost certainly intentional deception?

  • ||

    So, if they undercounted 1 million in 09, and the numbers are correct today, that means that they saved or created a million more jobs thant they originally thought! The Stimulus worked!

  • BakedPenguin||

    More threadjackitude: Lou Dobbs hires illegal immigrants?

  • BakedPenguin||

    Captain Pantoja and the Special Service is great. For those of you who don't have time to read, it was made into a movie, Pantaleón y las visitadoras. highly recommended.

  • Mito Uwodzenie||

    It`s intresting why in this year his got Nobel.
    Vargas Llosa has a lot of problems with Castro, and write so hard. I was reading only La tía Julia y el escribidor, it`s nice book.

  • ||

    I wonder why they're compelled to reveal their almost certainly intentional deception?

    "In other news, the chocolate ration has been increased."

  • Jason||

    (and Reason contributor)

    This really should have been a hyperlink to his contributor page.

  • Jason||

    Patricia, it turns out, was Mario's wife.

    A missing little detail: Patricia was also Mario's first cousin.

    They had 3 children.

  • Warty||

  • Jason||

    Most were passed in the Civil War’s aftermath — not, say Spencer and Paul, to reduce the chance of defects caused by combinations of deleterious genes, but as part of a radical expansion of government authority over private lives.

    It sounds suspiciously Progressive to me.

  • Trespassers W||

    What sexy, sexy times we live in.

    Or lived in, rather.

  • Old Mexican||

    How, he [Vargas Llosa] asked, when large parts of the world's intellectual community had become critical of the Cuban revolution, over issues such as censorship and the treatment of anti-Castro artists, could Garcia Marquez always remain so loyal to the dictator?

    Garcia Marquez remained loyal to Castro because Fidel was vehemently anti-Yankee, as was Gabriel. Garcia Marquez had the same sort of love affair that women had with Liberace in the 50s and 60s, even when he was so obviously gay.

  • ||

    Little known fact:

    In For Whom the Bell Tolls, the character Robert Jordan was loosely based on Mario Vargas Llosa.

  • ||

    Um dude, Llosa was 7 when that book was published.

  • ||

    Pretty badass, huh?

  • Warty||

    That's deep, dude. It's deep like a wheel or something. A wheel of time.

  • ||

    If you don't like it then it's satire, and, obviously, you don't get it.

  • CTD||

    I highly recommend Llosa's campaign memoir, "A Fish In Water", which discusses in depth just how much Peru had been screwed by its government and has plenty of campaign dirt.

    Also, I highly un-recommend Peruvian cuisine, except for the non-native sopa criolla.

  • Robert||

    20 yrs. ago I had such great political hope for Mario V-L. Looked like the favorite to head Peru...woo-hoo, a libertarian paradise in S.A., drug reform where they can really do something about it, etc. Then from out of nowhere came this guy who campaigned in a samurai suit, and the voters bought it. Well, I figured, at least Mario V-L. will be an advisor to him, things will go well anyway. Instead, Fujimori turned into quite the tyrant. It's like defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory, then victory went completely hungry and defeat got onto the Ed Sullivan show.

  • Old Mexican||

    The great Mexican poet and (also) Nobel laureate, Octavio Paz, once said that "Mexico does not really have intellectuals, rather sentimentals." That clearly describes "Gabo" Garcia Marquez...

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