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The Discreet Hero: A Novel Hardcover – March 10, 2015
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“[A] singular all-star performance . . . that proves that the Peruvian master is still at the top of his narrative game . . . The Discreet Hero is an exquisite concoction, a delicious melodrama of sex and betrayal, love and revenge. But what technique is needed! While real television soap operas are shaggy and plodding, Vargas Llosa's novel is swift, seamless and as structurally symmetrical as a diamond.” ―Marcela Valdes, The Washington Post
“The Discreet Hero, [is] an energetic book with a more straightforward narrative method than almost any other Vargas Llosa . . . [the book] is most memorable for its optimism . . . and for the way in which Don Rigoberto is forced away from his etchings and phonograph records and into the 'sordid warp and woof' of the world he has scorned.” ―Thomas Mallon, The New Yorker
“The book is often funny; you turn the pages with relish; it offers plenty to think about and admire . . . it immerses you in the way you hope any novel will immerse you.” ―Francisco Goldman, The New York Times Book Review
“Irresistible . . . Father-and-son conflict is the theme that connects the two story lines and ensures an unbreakable connection between this fabulously arresting novel and the fortunate reader who steps into its pages. Vargas Llosa [is] a soaring storyteller.” ―Booklist
“Lyrical and witty . . . A vivid tale of fathers and sons, rich and poor, this novel gives the world another reason to celebrate Vargas Llosa.” ―Publishers Weekly
“In the star-studded world of the Latin American novel, Mario Vargas Llosa is a supernova.” ―Raymond Sokolov, The Wall Street Journal on Mario Vargas Llosa
About the Author
Mario Vargas Llosa was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010 "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat." He has been awarded the Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world's most distinguished literary honor. His many works include The Feast of the Goat, The Bad Girl, and Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter.
One of our most celebrated translators of literature in Spanish, Edith Grossman has translated the works of the Nobel laureates Mario Vargas Llosa and Gabriel García Márquez, among others. Her version of Miguel de Cervantes's Don Quixote is considered the finest translation of the Spanish masterpiece in the English language.
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Top Customer Reviews
At the same time, in Lima, Don Ismael Carrera, the aging owner of an insurance company, is meeting with Rigoberto, his assistant, to try to delay Rigoberto's retirement. Ismael has twin sons who have lived lives of complete dissolution, involving car crashes, rape, debts in Ismael's name, forged receipts, and even the emptying of the petty cash box, and Ismael now plans to disinherit them. The person who will inherit everything will be the young woman Ismael unexpectedly plans to marry, at the age of almost eighty. Rigoberto will be a key to making all this possible. He, too, must, of course, be discreet.
Nobel Prize winner Vargas Llosa is clearly having fun as he develops these two story lines, which alternate happily between farce and soap opera. Complications arise, and unexpected twists and turns send one or both of the plots careening. Eventually, coincidences bring the two plot lines together. Though the emphasis is on plot, the author does bring in issues of marriage, the "comfort" of affairs outside of marriage, and occasionally even love. He illustrates the universal issues of parents and children, and the class differences among his characters. The moral complexities of living in a culture in which bribery and extortion are common practice add to the difficulties of survival.
In a style in which he sometimes shifts points of view and time periods without warning as characters remember the past, Vargas Llosa develops all the complications - then, unexpectedly and coincidentally, combines the two plot lines, bringing Piura and Lima together, happily resolving the problems. The last scene, in which Rigoberto, his wife, and his son take off for a European vacation provides the final resolution and the final laugh in this novel written for the pure pleasure of writing it, an entertainment on all levels for a reader looking for pure enjoyment, a rare commodity these days.
Felicito doesn't know Ismael and Rigoberto but they will become entangled on a mesh of intrigue when Felicito starts receiving notes asking for money in return for protection. In turn, when Ismael decides to marry Armida, his maid, Rigoberto will see that his retirement plans become threatened.
Iread this book from start to finish in a few hours.