Cover image for The way to paradise
The way to paradise
Vargas Llosa, Mario, 1936-
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Paraíso en la otra esquina. English.
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2003.
Physical Description:
373 pages ; 24 cm
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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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The dramatic lives of two bold, independent adventurers--Paul Gauguin and his grandmother Flora Tristan, a trailblazing women's suffragist--are imagined by "one of the master storytellers of our time" ("Chicago Tribune Book World").

Author Notes

Mario Vargas Llosa was born in Arequipa, Peru on March 28, 1936. He studied literature and law at the National University of San Marcos and received a Ph.D from the University of Madrid in 1959. He is a writer, politician, and journalist. His works vary in genre from literary criticism and journalism to comedies, murder mysteries, historical novels, and political thrillers. His books include The Time of the Hero, The Green House, Conversation in the Cathedral, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, The Feast of the Goat, and The War of the End of the World. He has received numerous awards including the Rómulo Gallegos International Novel Prize, the Premio Leopoldo Alas in 1959, the Premio Biblioteca Breve in 1962, the Premio Planeta in 1993, the Miguel de Cervantes Prize in 1994, the Jerusalem Prize in 1995, and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The great Peruvian man of letters is truly at home in the world at large. He knows the world as only a true cosmopolite does, writing knowledgeably about places far from his native Andean land. Following the staggering historical novel Feast of the Goat (2001), about dictator Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, Vargas Llosa now offers another prodigious novel rather in the same vein. It is also a fictional biography--a dual fictional biography, in this case--of the early-nineteenth-century French-Peruvian workers'-rights activist Flora Tristan and her grandson, famous painter Paul Gauguin. In alternating chapters, the author meticulously fashions portraits of these two vibrant individuals as he follows Flora in touring France to carry out her campaign to promote labor organization and equality in marriage, and Paul in awakening to his innate sexuality, to say nothing of tapping into his formidable artistic talent, by abandoning France for the South Pacific. The necessity of personal freedom to express oneself and accomplish one's life's work is at the heart of this novel, which is ripe with detail but never sinks under the plentitude. His avid readership will stand even firmer in their conviction that the truth of Vargas Llosa's genius lies in his ability to deliver vastly intelligent novels that nevertheless pulse with sensuality. --Brad Hooper Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Postimpressionist painter Paul Gauguin's dramatic life inspired Somerset Maugham's classic The Moon and Sixpence; now Vargas Llosa takes his turn re-imagining the artist's story in an intricately detailed novel that also chronicles the life of Gauguin's feminist-socialist grandmother, Flora Trist n. Splitting the narrative between Trist n's tour of France in 1844, which she made to recruit support for her Workers Union, and Gauguin's life after landing in Tahiti in 1891, Vargas Llosa shows how each sought something-be it social reform or artistic truth-greater than themselves. The illegitimate child of a Peruvian man and a French woman, Trist n flees her villainous husband and makes her way to Peru, where she hopes to claim her inheritance from her late father's Peruvian relatives. When she fails, she returns to Europe and throws herself into radical politics. Gauguin's story is better known-the abdication of bourgeois existence for art; the brief, conflicted cohabitation with Van Gogh; the voyage to Tahiti; the sexual escapades there, and the ravages of syphilis; the final voyage to the Marquesas Islands-and Vargas Llosa tells it carefully. His twin tales achieve force and momentum through the sheer accumulation of detail and the relentlessly chronicled physical decline of both protagonists. But though usually a master of rhetoric and tone, Vargas Llosa loses his footing here, syncopating his account with second-person remarks that condescend to his characters ("Alas, Florita! It was all for the best that it hadn't happened, wasn't it?"; "[Y]ou weren't dreaming of anything so foolish, were you, Paul?"). Flora Trist n deserves to be better known, and this novel should accomplish that goal. But despite Wimmer's excellent translation, Vargas Llosa's latest too often feels like a weighty, unwieldy account of two exciting lives, which does neither its subjects nor its author's past artistry a service. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The noted Peruvian novelist parallels two stories: that of Flora Tristan, who in the early 1800s fought for workers and women's rights in France, and her grandson, the painter Gauguin. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.