Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Conversation in the Cathedral Paperback – February 1, 2005
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
About the Author
Mario Vargas Llosa, uno de los más destacados novelistas contemporáneos latinoamericanos, se lanzó a la fama con su novela La ciudad y los perros que obtuvo el Premio Biblioteca Breve y el Premio de la Crítica. Novelas posteriores son, entre otras, La casa verde (Premio de la Crítica y Premio Internacional de Literatura Rómulo Gallegos), Conversación en La Catedral, La guerra del fin del mundo y Lituma en los Andes con la que obtuvo el Premio Planeta 1993. Ha publicado también obras teatrales, ensayos y memorias. En 1986 compartió con Rafael Lapesa el Premio Príncipe de Asturias de las Letras y en 1994 se le concedió el Premio Miguel de Cervantes de Literatura.
More About the Author
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.
Top Customer Reviews
To tell a chaotic story, Vargas Llosa uses a complex style: jumps in time, different voices from separated times speaking simultaneously. But it is not a hard reading, once you get used to it. The author is superb at eliciting suspense, progressive revelations that give an additional clue into the whole picture. It is fascinating how he reproduces the way people talk in an informal conversation at a bar. Think about it and try to remember your conversations with friends, when sharing a complex story.
If the style is great, the substance is chilling: it is a glimpse into the reality most of us refuse to acknowledge. Wherever you live, you will recognize people in almost every character. While MVLL is an excellent writer, this is definitely one of his best. It is certainly one of my favorite novels of all times, and I strongly recommend it.
It is just amazing how much knowledge the author (in his early 30s when he wrote this novel) displays about Peruvian, and by extent Latin American, society and people's psychology, especially those in positions of power (since this is also a political novel).
The narrative revolves around the story of Zabalita, a journalist from an upper middle class background. Zabalita is essentially a rebel and idealist who renounces fortune and fame out of both political/ideological convictions and parental resentments. His own personal family deceptions and disappointments are somehow projected onto the whole Peruvian society (it is hard to tell the author from his personage).
As it turns out, Zabalita's misfortune is that the vices he resents in his family (his father is an important politician) are inextricably linked to those the author very ably depicts as taking place in Peruvian society as a whole. The author skillfully depicts this reality throughout the novel by showing us his other characters with all their vices; here we have the opportunistic, corrupt, deceitful and immoral politicians.
Vargas Llosa greatly succeeds in narrating Zabalita's misfortune and gaining adepts in his readers (at least in my case) to Zabalita's cause. The climax of the novel comes towards the end of the book when Zabalita and the reader are revealed the darkest secrets of Zabalita's father. This is the climax towards which the novel inexorably unfolded starting with the initial conversations, between Zabalita and one of the main protagonists, in the bar "The Cathedral".Read more ›
While somewhat unusual, the structure of Conversation in the Cathedral is most impressive. The vast bulk of the book is dialogue, and a common occurrence is for different dialogues to be interlaced at the level of the sentence with no overt marking in a kind of point and counterpoint. There also exists an hierarchical layering, with events described in individual conversations recounted within the meta-conversation that spans the entire novel.
The narrative includes many jumps in time, with significant events that take place in the middle of the story often not being recounted until near the end of the book. The result is an almost "fractal" narrative, but one that is singularly impressive.
Despite its somewhat complicated structure, Conversation in the Cathedral has an irresistible feeling of movement and once readers become used to Vargas Llosa's sophisticated style, the book becomes more than engrossing. Conversation in the Cathedral also presents the clearest picture of exactly how a Latin American military dictatorship actually works.
While all of Vargas Llosa's books rate five stars, Conversation in the Cathedral is certainly his most impressive.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a most unique book. In the beginning, I found it hard to follow as the plot jumped around from one time period to another and then back again. Read morePublished 4 months ago by HUMMY
I bought it because he won the Nobel Prize. The selection criteria of the Nobel committee are beyond my comprehension.Published 8 months ago by Satipatipatti
Mario Vargas Llosa didn't make it easy. I read chapters 2 (rather disturbing) and 3 three times. I finally got my bearings by reading another reviewer's review. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Loves the View
It's not written in chronological order, so it's difficult to figure out when/what's going on. I gave up after a few chapters.Published 22 months ago by Cass W.
Vargas Llosa is a very productive writer with more than 30 publications. But if you're only going to read one, this is it. Read morePublished on January 31, 2014 by Diego Macera Poli
Have been an ardent fan of the writer. This is one of his earlier books, which I finally managed to read now. Read morePublished on October 24, 2013 by Ranga