Cover Image: Harsh Times

Harsh Times

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Truth and fiction intermingle in this fluid true-story narrative:  the events are real.  The characters and situations are re-created.  And the lies that overthrew the democratically-elected president of Guatemala were not.  In it, we can imagine the way that the US-based United Fruit Company fabricated a lie and used it to join forces with governments, disaffected mercenaries, and enemies of Guatemala's president's to stage a coup d'état.  The process, if not the change of government, changed the course of history in Latin America.  Despite the fact that the outcome is known to history, the reader can't help to sit in suspense until the last moment, hoping against hope that this time it could be different.
Stories like this break my heart.  Vargas Llosa is a favorite author of mine, precisely because his work illustrates so well the passions and weaknesses of human nature.  His portrayal of time so closely reflects reality--it doesn't really pass in an orderly, linear fashion, as we would like to believe, but instead takes unanticipated trips to the past alongside possible projections into the future.  This is lyrical imagining of the details of historical reality, breathing humanity into what we read coldly in textbooks.  It is also a timely reminder (although perhaps new to some?) of what the US Government and human nature are capable of doing in the quest for power and money.
Was this review helpful?
I've been a fan of Mario Vargas Llosa for a long time, so I was excited to see his latest novel available early on NetGalley. True to fashion, it did not disappoint, though it did require several Google sessions to satisfy my curiosity about the actual history in Guatemala during that time. The story is thick with detail and nefarious happenings, and yet it all does seem believable. Vargas Llosa makes Latin American history very engaging!
Was this review helpful?
A well-plotted, fast-paced book. I remain a fan of this worthy author. If you are looking for an immersive read, this is it.
Was this review helpful?
Harsh Times
by Mario Vargas Llosa
Translated by Adrian Nathan West
Publication Date: November 2nd, 2021

I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish Literature and language, and also attended graduate school for Spanish Literature. In one of my courses, we read several works by Mario Vargas Llosa, who was born in 1936, in Peru. I vividly remember reading his books "The Feast of the Goat" (about the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, and "The Way to Paradise" (about the artist Paul Gauguin). They were not only amazing works of literature, but Vargas Llosa also weaved in historical details, political beliefs, and feelings about his own life.

Harsh Times is Llosa's latest work, and it is a complicated one. He writes about a very challenging time in history, and he makes it come alive for his readers. While it's described as a novel, it most definitely has elements of reality and history in it. Harsh Times is a story about Guatemala, in the 1950s. So much was happening there politically and socially, and Llosa is able to interweave actual historical events with fiction. The book progresses at a good pace, and the reader is invited into the lives of people in Guatemala.

As this book is not set for publication until November 2nd of this year, I will be writing a more detailed review prior to that date. I really enjoyed reading "Harsh Times," and was absolutely swept up in the history and circumstances Vargas Llosa wrote about.

#NetGalley #MarioVargasLlosa #Guatemala
Was this review helpful?