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Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter: A Novel Paperback – October 2, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


“Funny, extravagant . . . A wonderfully comic novel almost unbelievably rich in character, place and event.” ―Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Uproarious entertainment . . . For sheer wit, imagination, and high style, this soap opera of love can't be beat.” ―The Christian Science Monitor

“A bedazzlement of entertainment.” ―Time

“One of South America's finest contemporary writers.” ―The Times (London)

Language Notes

Text: English, Spanish (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 1st edition (October 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312427247
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312427245
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

MARIO VARGAS LLOSA was born in Arequipa, Peru, in 1936. In 1958 he earned a scholarship to study in Madrid, and later he lived in Paris. His first story collection, The Cubs and Other Stories, was published in 1959. Vargas Llosa's reputation grew with the publication in 1963 of The Time of the Hero, a controversial novel about the politics of his country. The Peruvian military burned a thousand copies of the book. He continued to live abroad until 1980, returning to Lima just before the restoration of democratic rule.

A man of politics as well as literature, Vargas Llosa served as president of PEN International from 1977 to 1979, and headed the government commission to investigate the massacre of eight journalists in the Peruvian Andes in 1983.

Vargas Llosa has produced critical studies of García Márquez, Flaubert, Sartre, and Camus, and has written extensively on the roots of contemporary fiction. For his own work, he has received virtually every important international literary award. Vargas Llosa's works include The Green House (1968) and Conversation in the Cathedral (1975), about which Suzanne Jill Levine for The New York Times Book Review said: "With an ambition worthy of such masters of the 19th-century novel as Balzac, Dickens and Galdós, but with a technical skill that brings him closer to the heirs of Flaubert and Henry James . . . Mario Vargas Llosa has [created] one of the largest narrative efforts in contemporary Latin American letters." In 1982, Farrar, Straus and Giroux published Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter to broad critical acclaim. In 1984, FSG published the bestselling The War of the End of the World, winner of the Ritz Paris Hemingway Award. The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta was published in 1986. The Perpetual Orgy, Vargas Llosa's study of Flaubert and Madame Bovary, appeared in the winter of 1986, and a mystery, Who Killed Palomino Molero?, the year after. The Storyteller, a novel, was published to great acclaim in 1989. In 1990, FSG published In Praise of the Stepmother, also a bestseller. Of that novel, Dan Cryer wrote: "Mario Vargas Llosa is a writer of promethean authority, making outstanding fiction in whatever direction he turns" (Newsday).

In 1990, Vargas Llosa ran for the presidency of his native Peru. In 1994, FSG published his memoir, A Fish in the Water, in which he recorded his campaign experience. In 1994, Vargas Llosa was awarded the Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world's most distinguished literary honor, and, in 1995, the Jerusalem Prize, which is awarded to writers whose work expresses the idea of the freedom of the individual in society. In 1996, Death in the Andes, Vargas Llosa's next novel, was published to wide acclaim. Making Waves, a collection of his literary and political essays, was published in 1997; The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto, a novel, was published in 1998; The Feast of the Goat, which sold more than 400,000 copies in Spanish-language, was published in English in 2001; The Language of Passion, his most recent collection of nonfiction essays on politics and culture, was published by FSG in June 2003. The Way to Paradise, a novel, was published in November 2003; The Bad Girl, a novel, was published in the U.S. by FSG in October, 2007. His most recent novel, El Sueño del Celta, will be published in 2011 or 2012. Two works of nonfiction are planned for the near future as well.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 67 people found the following review helpful By D. Cloyce Smith on August 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
At its most basic level, Vargas Llosa's most famous novel is a portrait of the writer as a young man. The semi-fictional, semi-autobiographical Mario is a young student and would-be writer whose careers and aspirations are disrupted when he falls in love with his aunt-in-law, much to the horror of their many friends and relatives living in Lima. Pedro Camacho, an eccentric (to say the least) Bolivian scriptwriter, has been hired at the radio station where Mario works, and the youth envies the prodigious output of Pedro's intricate soap operas and hopes to learn from his new mentor the secrets of being an artist. The chapters alternate between descriptions of Mario's amusing and increasingly complicated life and Pedro's formulaic and decreasingly coherent scripts, as each character is gradually overwhelmed by the burdens and expectations they've created for themselves.
On a deeper level, "Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter" is about artistic failure: Mario's writing suffers because he is too busy living life to the fullest, while Pedro's well-being deteriorates because he barely experiences life at all. While Mario's life is the stuff of literature, his various attempts at short fiction are too concerned with artistic affectation: heavy symbolism and laborious overwriting doom his every effort. In contrast, the scriptwriter is so overwhelmed maintaining the pace of the scripts for ten different serials that he can't keep track of his own sense of reality, much less his fictional characters and elaborate plots. The final chapter, which some readers have found disappointing, actually completes this theme: the writer who balances a passion for life and devotion to art is the one who ultimately succeeds.
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Eric J. Lyman on April 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter is without a doubt Mario Vargas-Llosa's most entertaining book, intelligent without being difficult and hilarious without being patronizing.
Some of the most subtle points are lost in translation -- "escribidor" in the original title, for example, has a sense of someone simply taking dictation or producing a text by rote compared to the word "scriptwriter" used in the English language version -- but that is the only significant weak point and is not enough to withhold a five-star rating for this wonderful book.
The book's account is semi-autobiographical, with two story lines alternating chapters -- a style employed in several other Vargas Llosa novels -- until they begin to link together like cogs in the gears of the narrative. But it is the way they mesh together that is part of the magic in this book. Without giving away the story line here, let it suffice to say that at certain points you'll find yourself smiling and flipping back through the pages uttering "but didn't he..." or "I thought that..."
The story itself offers a fascinating look at several aspects of life in Peru, one of the most complex and interesting countries in the world. But it does it effortlessly; using a love-torn teenage protagonist, a sexy older woman, an enraged father, an eccentric serial writer, and a compelling cast of misfit radio artists.
Though certain parts (especially the story of Julia) are well documented, the exact extent to which some of the rest of the book is based on real life is still being debated.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Irina Iacobescu on July 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
When I really think about it, the worst thing I can say about Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter is that I did not want the book to end so soon. Like all great books, the story transported me to another place, in this case it is Lima in the 1950s. Here, aunts like fiction but they don't enjoy literature. And scriptwriters don't write literature, but produce large quantities of fiction.

Before the appearance of television, in Peru, the radio theatre (the ancestor of today's soap operas) was an important presence in the lives of the citizens of Lima. At Radio Central, a scriptwriter, Pedro Camacho, uses that stage to manipulate his audience's need for tales of horror and love.
At Radio Panamericana, a young news editor cuts articles out of the local newspapers and rewrites them for news bulletins. He checks his collaborator's appetite for catastrophes and falls in love with his aunt, a newly divorced Bolivian who comes to Lima in search for a profitable match.

The book is actually a slightly fictionalized account of Vargas Llosa's life as a university student. His unusual love story gets out of control, just as the prolific Pedro Camacho's radio scripts start to get out of the control.

I enjoyed the narrative a great deal, the interweaving of different stories involving Vargas Llosa's love story and the tales of the eccentric "scriptwriter".
His stories have a very important meaning - they are unforgettable depictions of Peru of the '50s, with well drawn characters. They act as representatives of Peruvian society, wealthy or poor, intellectual or not so intellectual, everyone with his or her own shortcomings and problems. They are all presented with tongue in cheek, in a well-written realistic story.
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