Mario Vargos Llosa, the Peruvian writer who today won the Nobel Prize for Literature, was not Jewish. But he nevertheless often wrote about them: in "The Storyteller," (1989), about a Jewish anthropoligist in Lima who shacks up with a tribe deep in the Amazon; as a contributer to the Commentary; and, recently, as an outspoken critic of Israel.
Given his not infrequent association with Jews, it is worth asking what he actually thinks of them.
Turns out his opinions are much like his prose: richly detailed, complicated, and full of pithy insights. Yet almost none of it devolves into caricature, and certainly not bigotry. The fact that Commentary’s John Podheretz published a letter today lionizing Vargas Llosa–mainly for his devotion to free markets and small government–says something. After all, in 2006, he told Ha’aretz’s Gideon Levy: "Israel had become a powerful and arrogant country, and it is the role of its friends to be highly critical of its policies."
So from one friend to another, Mr. Vargas Llosa, Mazel tov!