Nobel author Vargas Llosa won't seek office again

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Nobel literature prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa said on Monday he would not run again for the presidency of Peru, saying his candidacy in 1990 had been due to exceptional circumstances.

Mario Vargas Llosa, winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature, attends a news conference presenting his latest novel "The Dream of the Celt" in Madrid November 3, 2010. REUTERS/Andrea Comas

In the Swedish capital to collect his 10 million Swedish crown ($1.46 million) prize, Vargas Llosa said he stood against Alberto Fujimori 20 years ago because the country’s “very fragile democracy was shaking and on the point of collapse.”

“We had practically a civil war ... we had hyper-inflation... It was because of those circumstances that I had the necessity of political participation. I certainly won’t repeat this experience,” said Vargas Llosa, who was among the leaders of the resurgence in Latin American literature in the 1960s.

Vargas Llosa lost to Fujimori, who tackled the country’s inflation and Maoist guerrillas but is now in jail for human rights abuses.

The 74-year-old writer said he hoped the presidential election in Peru next year would strengthen democracy and the rule of law and build on the peace of recent years.

A champion of the left in his youth, Vargas Llosa shifted later in life across the political spectrum, angering much of Latin America’s leftist intelligentsia.

Speaking through a translator, however, he said he remained a liberal: “I am totally against all forms of authoritarianism and ...totalitarianism.”


Vargas Llosa made his international breakthrough in the 1960s with “The Time of the Hero,” a novel about cadets at a military academy in Lima. Many of his works are built on his experiences of life in Peru in the late 1940s and 1950s.

“The point of departure for all stories are some personal experiences that are preserved by my memory and that awake in my imagination the enthusiasm to fantasize around,” he said.

The Swedish Academy singled out his “cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt and defeat.”

Vargas Llosa said winning the prize had been a shock and that his life had “entered into a vortex” since.

“The way in which the Nobel prize is deserved, for me, is a total mystery,” he said in English. “I still wonder if it is real or if it is a kind of universal misunderstanding.”

He picked French novelist Gustave Flaubert as having the most influence on him and said he would give the Nobel Literature prize to Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges -- after he had resurrected him, as only living writers can be honored by the Nobel Committee.

Editing by Mark Trevelyan