Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa was born on March 28, 1936 in Peru. He is a prolific writer, journalist, essayist, former politician, and college professor. Llosa is one of the most influential Latin American writers of all time.

Published in 1963, his debut novel The Time of the Hero (La Ciudad y Los Perros) was an immediate success internationally. This was followed by The Green House (La Casa Verde) and Conversation in the Cathedral (Conversación en la Catedral). Some of his novels, including Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, have even been adapted into critically acclaimed movies.

In 1990, Llosa contested in the election for the Peruvian Presidency but lost to Alberto Fujimori.

He has been conferred with many honors, most notably the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010.


Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter is partly based on Mario Vargas Llosa’s own life – when he met his first wife, Julia Urquidi. In fact, the three main characters in the novel are the author himself, aunt Julia, and a guy named Pedro Camacho.

The story begins with the eighteen-year-old Mario meeting his uncle’s thirty-two-year-old divorced sister-in-law, Julia, who has just arrived from Bolivia to Peru in search of a new husband. At the same time, he meets the maverick Bolivian scriptwriter Camacho. Llosa and Camacho strike an unusual friendship.

Mario at the time is working as the News Director of Radio Panamericana. Radio Panamericana’s owners also own Radio Central, a station renowned for its serials. Coincidentally, Radio Central has recently hired Camacho to write and direct its serials.

An excerpt from Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa

The novel revolves around the author’s unconventional love story with Aunt Julia and their hardships. The various serial plots churned out by Camacho also play a key role in the story.

As the novel progresses, the affair between Mario and Julia becomes more complicated as Mario’s family discovers and vehemently opposes their relationship. Things are not very rosy for Camacho either as he starts mixing the characters and plot lines of his serials.


Mario Vargas Llosa effortlessly transports the readers to the Lima of the 1950s. His stellar storytelling skills are at their very best as he combines two completely different writing styles in the novel. On the one hand we have real characters with real issues, and on the other are dramatic plots with exaggerated versions of real people. It takes the readers a while – probably at least until the fourth chapter – to figure out that every alternate chapter is actually a serial plot written by Camacho!

Llosa’s unique way of sprinkling the story with humor is quite endearing as well. He carries on indefatigably despite the trials and tribulations in his life.

The strong, powerful personality of Julia also stands out. As for Camacho, the readers are in for a surprise if they wonder why the author had a soft spot for him and always protected him. In fact, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter is actually a saga of not one, but two love stories – one between the author and Aunt Julia and the other between Pedro Camacho and his writing.


There are hardly any flaws in this timeless masterpiece – one would probably need to put on their (super-)critical lenses to find one!


I was thoroughly convinced that a slip of my pen or a spelling was never a mere happenstance but rather a reminder, a warning (from my subconscious, God, or some other being) that the sentence simply wouldn’t do at all and had to rewritten.

In order to reach the public, stories, like fruits and vegetables, ought to be fresh, since art would not tolerate canned ones, much less those food products that were so old they’d turned rotten.

“It’s not a bad thing if one is confronted with such contretemps,” he said, sipping his first spoonful of consommé. “Suffering is a good teacher.


Ameya Rating:

We would recommend Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter to everyone who is looking for a beautifully written story. This vintage novel will almost certainly transport the readers to a different time and place altogether. That said, the book is not meant for young readers due to its extremely graphic accounts of violence.

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