Mario Vargas Llosa’s was born in 1936 in Arequipa, Peru. As his parents were separated by the time he was born, he was brought up by his mother and maternal grandparents in Cochabamba, Bolivia, Piura (northern Peru), and then in Lima. When he was about eight years old his parents reconciled. He attended Leoncio Prado Military Academy, and Colegio Nacional San Miguel de Piura. In 1955 he married Julia Urquidi; they divorced in 1964. From 1955 to 1957 Vargas Llosa studied literature and law at the University of San Marcos. He then attended graduate school at the University of Madrid, from where he received his Ph.D. in 1959.
In the 1950s, while still a student, Vargas Llosa worked as a journalist for La Industria, a coeditor of the literary journals, and as a journalist. His first collection of short stories, LOS JEFES, appeared in 1959. In the same year he moved to Paris because he felt that in Peru he could not earn his living as a serious writer. Although the boom of Latin American fiction in the 1960s opened doors to some authors for commercial success, the great majority of Peruvian writers suffered from the problems of the country’s publishing industry.
In France Vargas Llosa worked as Spanish teacher, journalist for Agence-France-Presse, and broadcaster for Radio Télévision Française in early 1960s. From the late 1960s Vargas Llosa worked as a visiting professor at many American and European universities. Vargas Llosa made his debut as a novelist with The Time of the Hero (1962), set in Leoncio Prado military Academy, where he had been a student. The book received an immediate international recognition. In 1965 he married Patricia Llosa; they had two sons and one daughter. In 1970 Vargas Llosa moved to Barcelona and five years later he settled back in Peru, ending his self-imposed exile. In 1977 he was elected President of PEN Club International. The military dictatorship, which started in 1968 when General Francisco Morales Bermudez took over the country, ended in 1980.
I in 1990 Vargas Llosa was a conservative candidate (Fredemo, the Democratic Front) for the Peruvian presidency. Vargas Llosa was defeated by Alberto Fujimori, an agricultural engineer of Japanese descent, also a political novice. President Fujimori escaped to his ancestral homeland Japan after a corruption scandal in 2000.
Vargas Llosa has received several prestigious literary awards, including Leopoldo Alas Prize (1959), Rómulo Gallegos Prize (1967), National Critics’ Prize (1967), Peruvian National Prize (1967), Critics’ Annual Prize for Theatre (1981), Prince of Asturias Prize (1986) and Miguel de Cervantes Prize (1994).
On October 7, 2010 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
He now lives in Peru and London.