OTC 7: "Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter" -- Peru
This is my 7th novel for the Orbis Terrarum Challenge.
Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa, originally published 1977, translation by Helen R. Lane from the Spanish, published 1982.
The novel, set in Peru in the early 1950s, focuses on a young law student named Marito who works part time drafting news reports for a local radio station but whose real ambition is to become a profession writer. His life is suddenly complicated by the arrival of two unusual individuals: his newly-divorced aunt-by-marriage Julia who is 14 years older than he is but with whom he develops a romantic (but largely chaste) relationship which has to be kept secret from his large family; and Pedro Camacho, a newly-hired writer of radio serials whose work attracts a large audience for the radio station and who accepts Marito as a kind of confidante even as his work becomes increasingly strange and downright bizarre as he begins to lose his grip on reality.
The novel consists of alternating sections of 1st person narration by Marito and 3rd person sections which recount the various stories Pedro is creating for his serials, stories which become increasingly intertwined, odd, and downright confusing as his control over his creations gradually slips away from him. Marito's own life is becoming strange, complicated, and confusing both because of his clandestine relationship with Julia as well as his attempts to help Pedro regain control of his life and creations. The book is richly comic but also at times, particularly with the character of Pedro, touching on the tragic, as well. It's decidedly an unusual novel but one worth reading by the writer who is considered Peru's most important contemporary novelist.