A lot of people have very strong opinions about Mario Vargas Llosa and that is understandable. As he is often described as a right-leaning or best, centrist writer, many from the left often scrutinize him more than others. Yet, he has stood the tests of time and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010. He is one of the most recognizable names from the Latin American list of writers, and is a staple in most graduate courses in literature.
What to read?
He is widely translated into English and his books are available at every store you can think of. In fact, even if you live in a small town, you might be able to pick up a few Mario Vargas Llosa books in a second hand store. One of the most famous novels that he has written is The Time of the Hero. This book was well received by critics and readers alike, and continues to be one of the most popular books he has ever written. Equally important is The Green House, which was more popular with critics than readers.
He is a modernist, but has often been described as a postmodernist too, depending on who the critic was. Much of the criticism against him comes from the fact that he was initially a left-leaning writer, who started to dabble with right-wing liberalism. This led to many critics denouncing him for adopting a sort of capitalist attitude which usually does not go well with the intellectuals of Latin America.
Familiarise yourself with Mario vargas Llosa’s books
To begin with, I highly recommend that you read Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, and Conversation in the Cathedral. Reading these two books will give you something to discuss with your new Peruvian friends, who may be more inclined towards literature than you might imagine. After all, every Latin American country that is worth its salt has a cafe culture that is dominated by animated discussions about politics, literature and sports.