Peru’s contribution to the world of literature is astounding to say the least. This country has contributed to both prose and poetry, mostly in Spanish language but also in indigenous languages. Part of the Latin American literary genre, Peruvian literature provides a glimpse to the country’s rich culture, history, and human condition. If you are planning to visit Peru, or have already visited, reading some of its top authors will help you to understand the country at a completely different level.
We have listed 5 Peruvian writers you can read, before or after that enchanting trip to Peru.
Mario Vargas Llosa
Recipient of the Nobel Prize for literature, and easily the most recognizable Peruvian author, Mario Vargas Llosa was not only a writer, but also an essayist and politician. His works explore power struggles, an individual’s response to tyranny, private resistance, and other themes. He not only dabbled with modernism, but also postmodernism in his style of writing.
If your Spanish is good, you can try reading La Ciudad y Los Perros, which is also available in English as The Time of the Hero. This was his first novel and was published in 1963 and is set in a Lima military school.
Amazon – $10.27
If you have heard of Ricardo Palma, you will probably want to read books written by his son Clemente Palma too. He was an outstanding literary critic and is known for his modernist-influenced science fiction stories. Of particular importance is “Malevolent Tales” published as Cuentos malevolos, in Spanish. Try to get this book in English and journey back to the times of Peruvian science fiction, from the early 20th century.
Amazon – $10.95
Born in Lima, Manuel Scorza was imprisoned by Manuel Odria, as he was a political activist and a writer. This writer had a very dramatic life that also ended quite dramatically when his plane crashed outside Madrid in Spain. The crash took the lives of 181 people and one of the biggest tragedies in the history of Spanish aviation. However, his books provide a glimpse into Peruvian life and you can start with one of the few English books available on Amazon, “Drums for Rancas”. You could start reading Drums for Rancas.
Amazon – $47.05
Alfredo Bryce has often been criticized for plagiarism but his original work is still stellar. After having studied French literature at the Sorbonne University, Alfredo published “A World for Julius”, which critically analyses how Peruvian upper classes behaved around the lower sections of the society. The novel looks at the world through the eyes of an upper caste child. Read this book to understand how Peruvian society once functioned, whose remnants can still be found today.
Amazon – 2004
What if you don’t like to read prose and want to read poetry? A great choice is Abraham Valdelomar. He has been compared to Charles Baudelaire of France, that brooding melancholic poet who is now synonymous with French poetry. As there aren’t many English translations available of his books, you could satisfy yourself by reading Gentleman Carmelo, which has been translated by John Penuel.
Amazon – $0.82 (Kindle version)