The Story-teller Author:Mario Vargas Llosa From Publishers Weekly: — The author's moral conscience and political consciousness (at one point he considered running for the presidency of Peru) are evidenced in this slim volume, less conventional novel than a blend of memoir, folklore and polemic. The narrator tells of his college friend Saul Zuratas, a man obsessed with preserving the cultu... more »re of the Machiguengas, a tiny, isolated Indian tribe threatened both by rapacious rubber barons destroying the Amazon jungle and the missionaries who want to bring the Machiguengas into the 20th century. Saul, called Mascarita because of a disfiguring facial birthmark, and doubly an outsider because he is a Jew, has a particular sensitivity to this primitive tribe that seeks to live peacefully with the natural world. The narrative alternates the story of Saul's obsession with chapters relating the Machiguengas' myths, stories handed down by the hablador , or storyteller. Through a remarkable coincidence, the narrator discovers that the mystery surrounding the habladores can be traced to Saul, who has found his destiny among the tribe. Written in the direct, precise, often vernacular prose that Vargas Llosa embues with elegance and sophistication, this is a powerful call to the author's compatriots--and to other nations--to cease despoiling the environment.
From Library Journal:
In his dazzling new novel, Vargas Llosa (whose works include The War of the End of the World ) shows that "story-telling can be something more than mere entertainment." In alternating chapters, he tells the story of Saul Zuratas, a Peruvian Jew who becomes an habladore (storyteller) to the Machiguengas--a tribe still wandering the Amazon jungle--and the tribe's stories themselves. The examination of the roles of anthropologists and ecologists in preserving the integrity of native societies is here explicit, and the good reader reaps the rewards of a novel that tackles major political issues as it fulfills the basic human need to tell and hear stories. A well-written work, demanding that we think about the results of acculturation and ecological disaster.« less