The Discreet Hero: A Novel (Paperback)
A tale of two cities—Piura and Lima—rocked by scandal, and the disintegrating bonds of loyalty between the generations
Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa’s newest novel follows two fascinating characters whose lives are destined to intersect: neat, endearing Felícito Yanaqué, a small businessman in Piura, Peru, who finds himself the victim of blackmail; and Ismael Carrera, a successful owner of an insurance company in Lima, who cooks up a plan to avenge himself against the two lazy sons who want him dead.
Felícito and Ismael are, each in his own way, quiet, discreet rebels: honorable men trying to seize control of their destinies in a social and political climate where all can seem set in stone, predetermined. They are hardly vigilantes, but each is determined to live according to his own personal ideals and desires—which means forcibly rising above the pettiness of their surroundings. The Discreet Hero is also a chance to revisit some of our favorite players from previous Vargas Llosa novels: Sergeant Lituma, Don Rigoberto, Doña Lucrecia, and Fonchito are all here in a prosperous Peru. Vargas Llosa sketches Piura and Lima vividly—and the cities become not merely physical spaces but realms of the imagination populated by his vivid characters.
A novel whose humor and pathos shine through in Edith Grossman’s masterly translation, The Discreet Hero is another remarkable achievement from the finest Latin American novelist at work today.
About the Author
Mario Vargas Llosa is Peru's foremost author and the winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature. In 1994 he was awarded the Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world's most distinguished literary honor, and in 1995 he won the Jerusalem Prize. His many distinguished works include The Storyteller, The Feast of the Goat, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, Death in the Andes, In Praise of the Stepmother, The Bad Girl, Conversation in the Cathedral, The Way to Paradise, and The War of the End of the World. He lives in London.
Edith Grossman has translated the poetry and prose of major Spanish-language authors, including Gabriel García Marquez, Alvaro Mutis, and Mayra Montero, as well as Mario Vargas Llosa.
“In the star-studded world of the Latin American novel, Mario Vargas Llosa is a supernova.” —Raymond Sokolov, The Wall Street Journal
“[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
“Often funny; you turn the pages with relish; it offers plenty to think about and admire. . . . [The Discreet Hero] immerses you in the way you hope any novel will immerse you.”—Francisco Goldman, The New York Times Book Review
“Simultaneously exotic and familiar in the way that all great literature seems to be. Its ease is that of a mastery playing at his craft, using danger, fear, evil, and empathy to carry the reader along. . . . Mario Vargas Llosa knows exactly what he’s doing.”—Los Angeles Times
“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
“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