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The Curious Case of Mario Vargas Llosa, Nobel Laureate 2010

The Curious Case of Mario Vargas Llosa, Nobel Laureate 2010

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!

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