Tiempos recios
Rights sold:
  • Armenian Antares
  • Croatian Vukovic
  • Dutch Meulenhoff
  • English USA: Farrar & Straus & Giroux
  • French Gallimard
  • Italian Einaudi
  • Persian Houpaa Books
  • Portuguese Brazil: Companhia das Letras
  • Romanian Humanitas
  • Serbian  Laguna

Tiempos recios / Harsh Times

Novel , 2019


Pages: 352

2021 - Prix André Malraux 'Fiction engagée' 

The true story of Guatemala’s political turmoil of the 1950s as only a master of fiction can tell it

Guatemala, 1954. The military coup perpetrated by Carlos Castillo Armas and supported by the CIA topples the government of Jacobo Árbenz. Behind this violent act is a lie passed off as truth, which forever changes the development of Latin America: the accusation by the Eisenhower administration that Árbenz encouraged the spread of Soviet Communism in the Americas. Harsh Times is a story of international conspiracies and conflicting interests in the time of the Cold War, the echoes of which are still felt today.

In this thrilling novel, Mario Vargas Llosa fuses reality with two fictions: that of the narrator, who freely re-creates characters and situations, and the one designed by those who would control the politics and the economy of a continent by manipulating its history.

Harsh Times is a gripping, revealing novel that directly confronts recent history. No one is better suited to tell this riveting story than Vargas Llosa, and there is no form better for it than his deeply textured fiction. Not since The Feast of the Goat, his classic novel of the downfall of Trujillo’s regime in the Dominican Republic, has Vargas Llosa combined politics, characters, and suspense so unforgettably.

“The author shows greater mastery, if that’s possible, than in La Fiesta del Chivo and the novel is a prodigious mechanism that invites the readers to let themselves be carried away amidst the suspense and sense of fate, just as history carries us all away, perpetrators, witnesses and victims.” José-Carlos Mainer, Babelia, El País

"Par cette orgie politique sur fond de coups d’Etat, Mario VARGAS LLOSA, grâce à une mécanique d’écriture implacable perdant sans cesse le lecteur dans un dédale de trahisons, d’intrigues et de complots, nous offre, une nouvelle fois, la démonstration de son génie littéraire." Prix André Malraux Fiction engagée (France, 2021)

"Vargas Llosa has constructed a compelling and propulsive literary thriller, deeply informed by his experience as a public intellectual and a practicing politician." Hari Kunzru, The New York Times

"History here gets a compelling human face through an artist’s dramatic brilliance.” Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Tiempos recios brings back a vigorous narrator and intellectual who shows an exemplary commitment to the great human cause of justice and freedom. […] As in every good historical novel, documented reality goes hand in hand with fiction and the events are supported by solid human stories.” Santos Sanz Villanueva, El Cultural, El Mundo

“Den Roman Harte Jahre, so glaubhaft und so wahr wie die sogenannte Historie.” Der Spiegel

“Avec ce roman d’espionnage, de politique et de désir, Super Mario frappe un grand coup, jonglant avec les époques et les figures de sa comédie (in)humaine latina, dont certaines, flamboyant d’une lumière noire, figuraient déjà dans sonchef-d’oeuvre La Fête au bouc.Le Point

"Classic Vargas Llosa . . . An unsettling reminder of the complicated relationship between storytelling and politics." Booklist (Starred Review)

“Diese Geschichte erzählt Geschichte. Das ist lehrreich, das ist spannend, das ist immer noch empörend. Mario Vargas Llosa macht es möglich.”  Martin Oehlen, Frankfurter Rundschau

“Mario Vargas Llosa gibt in Harte Jahre Einblicke in das politische Flechtwerk Mittelamerikas. Der Roman ... ist zugleich Dokumentation und Thesenroman: voller Spannung und sinnlich erzählt.” Katharina Döbler, Deutschlandfunk Kultur

“Fiction and reality are interwoven in this thrilling, hypnotic novel.” Alfredo Urdaci, Fan Fan 

 “Tiempos recios, a return to the best of Mario Vargas Llosa. The twenty-first novel by the Peruvian Nobel Prize for Literature retrieves his literary obsessions: political conspiracy, the resistance of the individual and a deep examination of power.” RPPNoticias

“Le roman du prix Nobel se lit comme un livre d’espionnage. Passionnant.” Femme Actuelle