These Books By Peruvian Authors Spoke To Me In A Way No Others Could
When I was a kid, my father always told me that two things would expand my mind: traveling and books. I figured I could just read way to other countries and kill two birds with one stone (right?!). I’ve read most of the American classics like “To Kill A Mockingbird,” “The Great Gatsby,” “The Catcher In The Rye,” and “Of Mice And Men.” But it wasn’t until I was about 18 that my father began introducing me to Peruvian classics. He told me these were our authentic stories…
1. “La Ciudad Y Los Perros” (The Time Of The Hero) by Mario Vargas Llosa
Mario Vargas Llosa is one of the most famous Peruvian authors. This story focuses around a group of teens that attend the same military school my dad went to in his teens, so this is especially close to his heart. This is a coming-of-age story for teenage boys who had to face what every teen boy deals with – on top of racism and white privilege in 1950s Peru. In the book we follow how these young boys had to cope with being outcasts and outsiders in their own country.
2. “Un Mundo Para Julius” (A World For Julius) by Alfredo Bryce Echenique
I’ll try not to be a cornball, but this story really does have the power to remind a reader about the true riches in life: family, people, time spent. “Un Mundo Para Julius” is a daring story that exposes high society’s priorities in 1960s Peru. Julius is a little boy growing up in a wealthy family. His dad is too busy working and his mom is too busy socializing so he becomes incredibly close to his nanny. This hits close to home for a lot of us, because while our parents may not have been high society, they were busy working so some of us were raised by our abuelitas.
3. “El Mundo Es Ancho y Ajeno” (Broad and Alien Is The World) by Ciro Alegria
Author, Ciro Alegria, was an advocate for indigenous rights and the protection of native land. The story is about the perseverance of the main character and his fight to protect his land from landowners of European descent. The book explores the exploitation of Peruvian Indians, and the racism and discrimination the poor townspeople experienced. We follow the unfortunate road of Indians who tried to repair their lives and cultures with the very little they were left with. While this story was written in 1941, the similarities we can see in America and shocking and a true eye opener.
4. “Los Ríos Profundos” (Deep Rivers) by José María Arguedas
This story follows an Indian teenage boy who travels to the Andes (Cuzco, to be exact) with his father in hopes of finding a job for his dad. There, the boy enrolls in a Catholic school and lives through suffering, violence, discrimination and pain. The book questions Catholicism in Peru while encouraging the determination and individualism of self-awareness, power, and decision-making. It is a rebellious and unconventional story, a symbolism for growing up and sometimes having to go against society’s standards.
5. “Los Heraldos Negros” (The Black Heralds) by César Vallejo
If you’re a poet, enjoy poetry or have simply ever been in love and heartbroken, you should probably check this guy out. César Vallejo was considered one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century. His work was known for making pain and suffering poetic. As a poet, he dared to explore the darkness of a human being without ever admitting to further understanding or insight on it. After every stanza and line, he questions existence, pain and evolution, only to end up with no answered questions at the end of each poem. This signified the road a human must take in life, we may search the meaning in things forever, only to be left with more questions. His poems were dark, honest, and one of the most vulnerable pieces in Peru at the time.
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