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Death in the Andes: A Novel Paperback – October 2, 2007

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My Struggle: Book Four
Eighteen-year-old Karl Ove moves to a tiny fishing village in the Arctic Circle to work as a school teacher. As the nights get longer, the shadow cast by his father's own sharply increasing alcohol consumption, also gets longer. Read the full description
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 1st edition (October 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312427255
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312427252
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,021 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ancient and modern horrors mingle in Vargas Llosa's somber yet oddly zestful novel, the most direct examination the Peruvian writer has made of his nation's complex political problems since The War of the End of the World and The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta. At a remote location in the Andes, Civil Guards Lituma and Carre?o investigate the disappearance of three men, two of whom were laborers on a highway project that will likely never be finished due to the region's increasing political volatility. Sendero Luminoso guerrillas have attacked several nearby towns; in a chilling early chapter, they stone to death two French tourists unwise enough to travel through the area. The Sendero Luminoso's activities?and Carre?o's casual aside acknowledging that the Civil Guard has committed atrocities in return?create an atmosphere of menace that is further compounded by the officers' inability to communicate with the sullen and hostile seruchos. These mountain people treat the easygoing Lituma "as if he came from Mars." Indeed, affluent coastal Peru might as well be Mars to the sierra's impoverished Indians, who prove less receptive to the guerrillas' Marxist sloganeering than to the blandishments of a mysterious local couple who may have instigated sinister rites with links to those involving pre-Columbian human sacrifice. If Vargas Llosa is making a point about the eternal, intractable nature of violence in Latin America, it is so buried as to be virtually invisible. No matter: his vigorous storytelling and intriguingly complex structure?past and present mingle in the intertwined narratives of various characters?offer ample satisfaction without any overt message.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

People have been mysteriously disappearing in the remote mining communities of the Andes, where the inhabitants are more likely to speak the Incan language Quechua than Spanish. Some blame the heavily armed bands of teenage Sendero Luminoso guerrillas that periodically descend on the villages to conduct mock trials and execute "imperialist lackeys." Others blame the equally bloodthirsty government troops. Danish anthropologist Paul Stirmsson suspects that some of the recent victims may have been killed in ritual sacrifices to appease pre-Columbian gods and demons. A witch named Dona Adriana and her husband, Dionisio, whose drunken antics recall the Dionysian revels of Greek antiquity, are the prime suspects. The author (In Praise of the Stepmother, LJ 9/1/90) makes no attempt to assess the Senderistas in political terms. Instead, he offers a sort of Diane Arbus portrait gallery of rural Peru, set in an entertaining detective novel format. For larger fiction collections.
Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law School Lib., Los Angeles
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Not a cheerful book, but very very good.
Overall I thought Death in the Andes was a good book and I would recommend reading it to anyone who likes a good old fashioned mystery novel.
This is an excellent novel filled with magical realism, brutal violence, interesting characters and a distinct sense of humor.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Michael Wischmeyer on May 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
Death in the Andes is a story of brutality and fear and ignorance. The language is often coarse and vulgar. The ending is especially disturbing. Were it not for the remarkable writing of Mario Vargas Llosa, I might have put this unsettling story aside. But Mario Vargas Llosa is a captivating story teller and I found myself wanting to know more and more about his characters that inhabit the harsh mountains of Peru.
The reader encounters alternating viewpoints and layered conversations that intermingle the present and the past, forcing the reader to remain alert. Death in the Andes is structurally a mystery story in which two soldiers assigned to a barren outpost investigate the disappearance of three men. The brutal Shining Path terrorists (the Senderistas) are the natural suspect, but Corporal Lituma also mistrusts both the townspeople (largely traditional Indians) and the construction work crew building a highway across the mountains. Initially, he has little patience for talk of the pishtacos, vampire-like humans that sucked the blood and ate the melted the fat of their victims.
There are stories within stories. Young French tourists are stoned to death, rather than shot, to save bullets, and to permit others to take part in the killing. In fascination we listen to a lonely young man describe his improbable love of a prostitute. We witness a village turning upon itself and selecting victims for the Senderistas. We meet an aged, repulsive woman who in her youth helped kill a pishtacos. We gain a nebulous understanding as to why Peruvians and foreigners involved in re-forestation programs and nature preserves become prime targets for assassination.

I have already begun to read Death in the Andes again and I am searching for more writings by Mario Vargas Llosa.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Kosta Dalageorgas on August 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
Mario Vargas Llosa does an excellent job in capturing many of the dilemnas and controversies which face modern Peru in "Death in the Andes". He does an masterful job in presenting the military, insurgents, (Sendero Luminoso), and also the native peasants and farmers of the country. The reader really feels the emotions and experiences of the characters in the story. The violence, brutality and pain of life of many in Peru comes across clearly in this tale. Vargas Llosa weaves the narratives of three characters and also experiments with shifting between different periods of time during the course of the novel. His writing style in this work is very straightforward and clear. The book reads quite quickly and easily. If one enjoys the work of Gabriel García Márquez or a great story in general, they will enjoy "Death in the Andes".
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Debbie Lee Wesselmann TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
DEATH IN THE ANDES is a suspenseful and explosive story about the political and social landscape of Peru in the 1990's. Corporal Lituma and his deputy Tomas are assigned to a remote area of the Andes to oversee a road crew. When three men are reported missing, everyone becomes edgy. Lituma sets out to solve the mystery, but soon finds himself overrun with more questions than answers.
Told in a mosaic of voices, from Lituma to two hapless French tourists to the proprietor of the local cantina, the real mystery is the Peruvian people and their survival in the harsh terrain of the Andes amid guerrillas, poverty, political uncertainty, and superstition. Llosa delivers this story with an unflinching honesty that will keep you turning pages, horrified and yet unable to turn away.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By algo41 on January 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
The protagonists are two civil guards alone in a small mining town threatened by guerrillas, and the loss of work. The town is the home of a couple with a Dionysian bent, and an apparent belief in rituals over a 1000 years old. Plot lines include the disappearance of 3 people, the past infatuation of one of the guards, and the guerrilla movement. What the book is really about is the poverty and degradation of the people, and the apparent hopelessness. Vargas writes about this obliquely, so as not to overwhelm the reader, while getting the point across. While I liked the book, I didn't fully appreciate the Dinonysian aspect, I guess, which was a major drawback for me. Vargas uses an interesting technique of seamlessly switching between voice and time, and back, without confusing the reader.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Michael Hager on June 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
In Death in the Andes, Vargas Llosa weaves a tale that is neither simple nor pat. He reveals truths about human nature: their complexities and frailities in stressful circumstances. People alone in the mountains; people who have lost hope turn to beliefs as old as those same hills and become something horrible. They turn on their neighbors and kill them at the behest of people all too willing to use them for their own ends. The terrucos, serruchos, apus, and pishtacos which liter his story surround the reader in a vast world one cannot explain away as being the rantings of mountain people. Vargas Llosa places the reader into this mysterious world, and it is not always a comfortable one. The Shining Path scenes in this book are, in themselves, enough to make one turn away. But it is worth the read, as simply a lever to pry open that world which I can never really know, even though I've pedaled a bike in the backcountry, and had people yell that I was a "pishtaco" or one who steals the flesh from another to sell, I am not of Peru. Vargas Llosa took me as far I could ever go.
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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.

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