Harsh Times

by Mario Vargas Llosa delves into the complex political history of Central America in the 1950s. Vargas Llosa, the Peruvian-born Nobel Prize-winning author, takes a sharp look at the role that the United States played in a 1954 coup in Guatemala, as well as the long shadow that the corporate behemoth United Fruit and its propaganda machine, “the Octopus”, cast on Guatemala’s political and social history. The intrigue is thick and intense and, in Llosa's hands, comes to life in the form of characters like Martita Borrero Parra, a young woman disowned by her father who becomes a key player in the coup and its bloody aftermath.