[Answering a question on where he actually lives, as he travels often between Lima, London, Paris, Madrid]:
Essentially, I live where I am… And let us say that I am especially in four places where I carry out the same life: Lima, Madrid, London, Paris… Lima, it is for the memories of my youth. Paris or Madrid, it is to feel the pulse of Europe which moves.
But London, it is the ideal to work, because the writers, over there, are not socially very significant and nobody thinks of disturbing them… Borges, very anglophile, adored these British conversations “which start by abolishing the confidence and which end up removing the dialogue”… He was right: it is in London that I write most easily. In does Paris, one speak too much, you do not find?
[On the observation that his room is clinically neat and clean, resembling a dentist’s office]:
Yes, I am very organized: alarm clock, walk, reading of the newspapers, shower, writing, public library or coffee, then writing. Always the same thing, the same rate/rhythm. I do not have the choice…, I become claustrophobic and, then, I transform myself into a special correspondent here or there… A writer should not be locked up too a long time with his phantoms. It would be unhealthy…
Ah, Flaubert! I place his work above all, but I would not have liked to live his life.
[On his visit to Gaza during the recent withdrawl]:
… What I saw was atrocious… Worse than the worst of the shantytowns of Latin America… And the future is announced badly for the poor people which stagnate there. Sharon had reason to get rid of Gaza, but any remainder to be made for the Palestinians. The misfortune of these people, it is not to have known to give a leader to Mandela, an undeniable and enough charismatic man to force to them his to rise at a certain ethical altitude, as it was the case, in Israel, in the Seventies.
I am always at the same point: on a moral level, I delighted by the fall of a dictatorship, this at the price of a war was; on a practical level, I deplore the amateurism of the Americans in their management of this post-war period. As for the position of France, I immediately had the intuition that it was less “pure” that its leaders did not claim it.
In France admittedly Vargas Llosa would pass for a man of the right – though he was on the Left once. Like all the intellectuals coming from Sartrism and become Camu-ists. Previously, in another life, he believed himself to be a Marxist- and then, with the turning of the Seventies, had very slowly inflected (to the Right).
My eyes started to open in 1966, when I discovered the treatment that Fidel Castro held to the homosexual Cubans. The “UMAP”, where one locked up these alleged “social patients”, were true concentration camps. From only one blow, reality moved away from the ideal landscape which I had imagined. Then, all went very quickly: Castro supported the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia and, finding me myself in Moscow little before the event, I understood that if I had then been Russian or Cuban, they would have thrown me in prison, or killed, or exiled… Not easy, you will agree, to believe durably in a system which holds this kind of thing to the intellectual who still believes himself “of left”…
[On why he continues to live the life of an intellectual on the Left, despite his right- wing politics]:
You know, an intellectual, in general, it is somebody who aspires to a perfect world, and the perfection meets better in the Utopia that in reality. From where its instinctive mistrust at the place of the democracy – or the market economy -, which organizes, precisely, a company of the least evil, therefore of the imperfection. Earlier, let us say that I was utopian. Today, I am still one, in all, except in policy…
This renouncement of the totalitarian perfection of the Utopias, or this resignation with “less the democratic evil”, did it affect your work of novelist?
Yes, of course: literature always prefers the ideal and chaos with any social contract founded on wisdom. It prefers, if I then to say, sublimates it with prose! Usually, the “ordered” companies produce a very poor literature – especially if one compares it with the literatures given birth to by the dictatorships. Look at the Latin America of the caudillos or Russia of the goulags: the writers were more interesting there than in Switzerland or Sweden! For what concerns to me, let us say that I tried to confine my are delirious of man and novelist to the only space of my books. As soon as I become again citizen, I endeavour to forget what excites me when I imagine or when I dream…
[The final parting words do not lack in punch either]:
The sun inhabitant of Madrid declines now on the plaza which leaves its torpor. The “movida”, alive, is enjouée always there. And Vargas Llosa undoubtedly will walk in the feverish streets of the evening. On the threshold, we still have time to specify two or three things. Did it read the last novel of Houellebecq? “Yes, it is more picturesque than deep…” the Nobel? “let us not even think of it…” the erotism? “a proof of civilization” Sarkozy? “a small hope for France”. Islamism? “the major danger of our time” Günter Grass? “the author of only one chief-of work” On Garcia Marquez, finally, it will be as laconic as with his practice – “it is a very great writer” – by making silence, once more, on the reasons (not policies) of their fachery.