Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The BAD GIRL - Mario Vargas Llosa

Just finished reading "The BAD GIRL" of Mario Vargas Llosa. This book released end of last year is already making waves with some great reviews and recomendations.

Very nicely 'written' book about a Peruvian expatriate (Ricardo) living in Paris as translator , interpreter with UNESCO and his love affair with the BAD GIRL.

Lily came into his world as a 14 year old in his Miraflores neighborhood of Lima and he was smitten by her charm at the first instance. This lady follows ( he calls him the BADGIRL) him in his life and dreams ... from the disguised Chilean girl in his neighborhood, later as a revolutionary on her way to Cuba (whom he meets in Paris and helps her to get away to Cuba) , as the wife of a French Diplomat (Madam Arnaux) , as the wife of a English entrepreneur in London , the keep of a Japanese gangster in Tokyo, returning to him all broke and in disarray after every adventure before leaving him again. She is treated in Paris with his money and marries him later in order to obtain legal papers in France. She again leaves him to lead her preferred life before returning to him, sick and lost. While she is trying to disguise her origin and her background from him, he could not get over with his love for her. She like many , is after power, money , adventure, continue to leave him in search of these pleasures.

It is also about the dualities of life. The good boy and Bad girl , lust and indifferent, poverty and power , love and betrayal , countrymen and expatriates , domination and submission....

Llosa also discusses the falling living standards and the political and military commentary , through the letters and discussions of his uncle Ataulfo with Ricardo and the disappointment of the educated and qualified youth with the regime. Like all other work of this master story teller, the language and the style is good, but there is no meat. This book fails to give me any new insight. However, from a pure fiction point of view , it is very good and recommended.

I borrow the words from a review I read to summarise - " But for all its thoughtful tackling of complex themes, The Bad Girl is certainly not all seriousness; as the Washington Post declares, "Obviously, the novel was written for the sheer fun of it -"the fun for Vargas Llosa in writing it, the fun for us in reading it."
Many readers and reviewers have compared this to Madam Bovary, with possible influence from Flaubert. However, to me, this book evoked the memories of reading "Love in the Time of Cholera". May be for the perpetual wait for their love. Believe me, there are no comparison..

I always believed, that Mario Vargas Llosa is one of the writers who deserve the Nobel Prize for Literature. Though not in the league of "Death in the Andes" or "War of the end of the World" , this book definitely contribute to the cause.

Mario Vargas Llosa
Translated by Edith Grossman
Faber &Faber
276 Pages
Rs 495

PS : I'm particularly fond of the beginning and end sentences of the fiction I read. Here is the last line of this book : "At least admit I've given you the subject for a novel. Haven't I , good boy ?"

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