Insightful essays express guarded hope for Latin America’s future.

SABERS AND UTOPIAS

VISIONS OF LATIN AMERICA: ESSAYS

Essays on Latin American politics reflect 5 tumultuous decades.

Nobel Prize winner Vargas Llosa (Notes on the Death of Culture: Essays on Spectacle and Society, 2015, etc.), born in Peru in 1936 and who ran for president of his home country in 1990, reflects on the politics and culture of Latin America in essays written over more than 50 years. Translated by Kushner and selected and introduced by Carlos Granés, a Colombian-born social anthropologist and scholar of Vargas Llosa, the essays reveal the trajectory of the author’s views from a leftist supporter of Fidel Castro to a conservative critic of various “collectivist ideologies” that he sees as having blighted Latin America. Granés groups the essays into five sections that are thematically related but not presented chronologically. In an informative foreword, he contextualizes the author’s work as responses to political events that occurred from the Cuban revolution of the 1950s, which Vargas Llosa considered “a model within socialism,” to the current upheaval in “impoverished, damaged Venezuela, devastated by demagoguery and corruption” under the presidency of Nicolás Maduro. Castro’s regime lost Vargas Llosa’s respect in 1971 when the Cuban ruler imprisoned the poet Heberto Padilla for “counterrevolutionary criticism” expressed in his poems. In response to Padilla’s public humiliation—he was forced to engage in self-criticism—Vargas Llosa, along with dozens of other writers, sent a strident rebuke to Castro, communicating “shame and anger” over his repression of freedom and abuse of human dignity. Many essays argue for intellectual openness: “the way in which a country strengthens and develops its culture,” the author wrote in 1981, “is by opening its doors and windows, widely, to all intellectual, scientific, and artistic currents, stimulating the free circulation of ideas.” Headnotes would have been a welcome addition to the collection; although Granés dates each piece, there is no indication of where they appeared or for what occasion. An exception is a warm memoir of literary friendships delivered at the first “Canon of the Boom” Congress in Madrid in 2012.

Insightful essays express guarded hope for Latin America’s future.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-374-25373-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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