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WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATURE
A thrilling tale of desire and Peruvian corruption swirls around a scandalous exposé that leads to murder
From the Nobel Laureate comes a politically charged detective novel weaving through the underbelly of Peruvian privilege. In the 1990s, during the turbulent and deeply corrupt years of Alberto Fujimori’s presidency, two wealthy couples of Lima’s high society become embroiled in a disturbing vortex of erotic adventures and politically driven blackmail.
One day Enrique, a high-profile businessman, receives a visit from Rolando Garro, the editor of a notorious magazine that specializes in salacious exposés. Garro presents Enrique with lewd pictures from an old business trip and demands that he invest in the magazine. Enrique refuses, and the next day the pictures are on the front page. Meanwhile, Enrique’s wife is in the midst of a passionate and secret affair with the wife of Enrique’s lawyer and best friend. When Garro shows up murdered, the two couples are thrown into a whirlwind of navigating Peru’s unspoken laws and customs, while the staff of the magazine embark on their greatest exposé yet.
Ironic and sensual, provocative and redemptive, the novel swirls into the kind of restless realism that has become Mario Vargas Llosa’s signature style. A twisting, unpredictable tale, The Neighborhood is at once a scathing indictment of Fujimori’s regime and a crime thriller that evokes the vulgarity of freedom in a corrupt system.
Llosa's lively novel belongs in the pantheon of guilty pleasures by Nobel winners. Set in the waning years of Alberto Fujimori's Peru, a time of "kidnappings, the curfew, blackouts, the whole nightmare," the novel is structured as a breezy thriller but takes as its real subject the crimes and corruption of the Fujimori regime and its enforcer, the mysterious "Doctor." It begins with Enrique C rdenes, a wealthy engineer, receiving a visit from Rolando Garro, editor of the tabloid Exposed, regarding a salacious series of photographs of Enrique that have fallen into his possession and could be conveniently forgotten if Enrique chooses to invest in the yellow press. Outraged, Enrique violently rejects Rolando's overture. When the photos are published and Enrique appears on the cover "naked from head to toe," the scandal kills his reputation. When Garro turns up dead a few days later, Enrique is the prime suspect. While for most of the novel the prose is straightforward and in the manner of a page-turner, toward the end, Llosa includes an extended fugue of his trademark interweaved dialogue to great effect. Reminiscent of Pynchon's Inherent Vice in its use of genre fiction for higher purposes, this is an audacious and skillful novel. \n