The Neighborhood: A Novel by Mario Vargas Llosa, Edith Grossman (Translator), Farrar, Straus and Giroux, US $26.00, Pp 254, February 2018, ISBN 978-0374155124
The Neighborhood is set in the 1990s, during the turbulent and deeply corrupt years of Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori. The story starts when Enrique, an important businessman in Peru, is visited by Rolando Garro, the editor of a notorious magazine that specializes in personal scandals of rich people. Garro shows Enrique lewd pictures from an old business trip and asks him to invest in the magazine. Rolando Garro tells Enrique that the pictures will be on the front page of the magazine next day if he refused. Enrique still refuses and Garro goes ahead with his threat of publishing those pictures on the front page of the magazine next day. Behind his back, Enrique’s wife is having a passionate and secret affair with the wife of Enrique’s lawyer and best friend. Soon Garro is found murdered in mysterious circumstances and two couples find themselves facing Peru’s unspoken laws and customs of corruption and blackmailing. The staff of the magazine is set to discover one of their greatest exposé yet.
Mario Vargas Llosa is known for his signature style of restless realism which is reflected in The Neighborhood. This suspenseful story revolves around the privileged classes in Peru. Mario Vargas Llosa exposes how freedom is a weapon in the hands of the corrupt in a corrupt political system. It is an indictment of Fujimori’s regime. Mario Vargas Llosa explores the dark side of human nature. It is a great political crime thriller by one of the best living novelists, who happens to be from Peru. Like other novels from Mario Vargas Llosa, The Neighborhood is a modern classic.
Mario Vargas Llosa received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2010. He is also the winner of the Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world’s most distinguished literary honor. His many works include The Discreet Hero, The Feast of the Goat, The Bad Girl, and Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter. 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.