By the middle of the book, Trujillo has been assassinated and the revenge on the conspirators and their families by the Trujillo supporters is vicious and slow. One would think that Vargas Llosa plagiarized Dante's ``Inferno'' for the tortures, but the events actually happened. His writing is clear and powerful. Though Trujillo is dead, the ensuing political turmoil is riveting.
``This was the most difficult part of the novel,'' says Vargas Llosa of writing on the tortures that went on for weeks before the plotters were executed. ``It was so brutal, and difficult to justify the violence on literary grounds.'
Vargas Llosa keeps residences in Spain, England and Peru. ``I've spent a lot of time in France ... I am working on a novel on Paul Gauguin and his grandmother, a famous anarchist. It's about social utopias.''
But it is inevitable that Vargas Llosa will return to Latin America in his writing. ``The basic experiences, which are the source of images and ideas for a writer, are in my case rooted in Latin America,'' he says. ``It is the most exciting history to write about -- the violence, the drama.''
Dylan Foley is a free-lance book critic who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. He wrote this article for The Courant.