Cinco esquinas
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Cinco esquinas / Five Corners

Novel , 2016


Pages: 320

A rich businessman, Enrique Cárdenas, is a victim of blackmail by a famous tabloid editor. When he refuses to pay, photos are published of Cárdenas participating in an orgy with prostitutes and drugs, unleashing a scandal that makes the covers of all the gossip magazines and places him in the line of fire of damning Lima society gossip. The situation becomes even more hellish for Cárdenas when he is accused of a murder occurring in Cinco Esquinas, one of Lima’s most poverty-stricken neighbourhoods. He is innocent, and in all of Peru there is only one woman capable of taking down the true culprit. A cynical journalist of doubtful morals, who has spent her career slandering and inventing scandals about the adversaries of Alberto Fujimori’s government in order to publicly ruin their reputations, finds the opportunity to redeem herself by honouring the true mission of her profession for the first time in her life.

This new novel by Mario Vargas Llosa brings together the detective, thriller and comedy of intrigue genres, with highly erotic undertones. In addition to providing a live mural of Peruvian society during the violent years of the Fujimori dictatorship, it proposes an indispensable reminder of “how journalism, which can be something vile and dirty, can suddenly become an instrument of liberation, of moral and civic defence of a society.”

“[A] trail of family scandals, tabloid exposés, blackmail and subterfuge. . . a dish of revenge eaten cold. . . its flavours, if occasionally crude, taste strong enough to satisfy those readers who will treat the novel’s closely-observed Peru as a land of myth. . . Vargas Llosa has ingeniously deployed the erotic intrigues, high-society secrets, and pot-boiling plot twists of the Latin American telenovela. . .  [The Neighborhood] pulses along with a zest and cunning not commonly found among octogenarian Nobel laureates.Boyd Tonkin, Financial Times

“A busy fresco of betrayal and retribution.”  The Guardian

“An unforgettable picture of how art and ideas are treated by totalitarians.The Herald

“With its blend of documentary sources and invention, The Neighborhood is Peruvian pulp fiction of rare, exaggerated nastiness and the darkest satire.” Evening Standard 

“A devastating criticism of the hypocritical Peruvian bourgeoisie of the Fujimori years.” Jesús Ferrer, La Razón

“La Retaquita is the best character in Cinco esquinas, and a true Lisbeth Salander of the developing world.” Sergio Vila-Sanjuán, La Vanguardia

“Everything is masterful in this novel reflecting the malicious wisdom of a veteran writer and the new, inexhaustible creativity that dazzled us over half a century ago.” José-Carlos Mainer, El País-Babelia

 “The Nobel Prize winner’s most powerful writing is back in a novel where the Peruvian author lets himself go with overwhelming vitality, humour, scenes of delicious erotic happiness, and a relentless condemnation of political and journalistic corruption.” J.A. Masoliver Ródenas, La Vanguardia-Culturas