Historia de Mayta

“¿Por qué no mentir más bien desde el principio?”
“Porque soy realista, en mis novelas trato siempre de mentir con conocimiento de causa – le explico”.

Mario Vargas Llosa, Historia de Mayta

Ladies and gentleman, I am proud to announce that the Summer of Reading Immersion is on! At the moment the score is quite good: one book and half in seven days. Why half a book? Well I did begin reading Historia de Mayta in Winter, took a break during Spring and picked it up again in sunny Cabanas.

Historia de Mayta brings us to Peru of the 50s, boiling with revolutionary groups, a blinding theoretical hunger for change, pillared on ideals and weaponry, armed leftist ideals. Based on a true story of a small outburst of revolution in rural Peru, Jauja (who knows, maybe it’s the “darkest Peru” where Paddington comes from), Llosa goes through several interviews with people who, one way or another, witnessed the events, and portrays to us Mayta, the revolutionary.

Once again, as in La Fiesta del Chivo, I’m simultaneously marveled and disgusted at the corrupt, self-centered mind of the politician. Llosa describes it superbly, insightfully, leaving the reader with a bitter taste of foregone ideals, of corruption, treason and violent persecution of whomever is against the regime. When the disappointment is more than we can take, Llosa takes us a step further recounting the interview with the man on whom Mayta was based upon. This reader’s heart sunk: a battered man, forgiven once but persecuted forever, surrendered to shanty town life of making ends meet, but saddest of all, with no memory, a living ghost of himself.

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