"I fully discovered Latin American literature while I was living in Paris as a young writer, during the sixties," said Vargas Llosa. "At that time, the Latin American Boom was born," he added.
In fact, the literary movement most closely associated with Julio Cortazar (Argentina), Carlos Fuentes (Mexico), Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colombia) and Vargas Llosa (Peru) challenged the established conventions of Latin American literature. Their work was experimental and, due to the political climate of Latin America in the 1960s, also very political.
Mario Vargas Llosa was born in Arequipa, and spent parts of his youth in Cochabamba (Bolivia), Piura in northern Peru and Lima. He made his debut as a novelist with The Time of the Hero (1962), set in Leoncio Prado military Academy, where he had been a student. The book received immediate international recognition.
His many other works include the novels Conversation in The Cathedral, The Green House, The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta, Who Killed Palomino Molero?, The Storyteller, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, The Feast of the Goat, The Bad Girl, The Dream of the Celt, The Discreet Hero and the theatre plays La Chunga, Kathie and the Hippopotamus, The Young Lady from Tacna, among others.
"A good writer has no nationality," said Claudio Magris. "[He/she] is a citizen of the world, a witness of his time."
Magris was born in Trieste in 1939 (Italy). In 1986, he published his first novel Danube which was later translated into 24 languages. He is the author of numerous novels and essays, translated into many languages, as well as a newspaper columnist.
His numerous publications include: Lontano da dove, Joseph Roth e la tradizione ebraico-orientale, L'anello di Clarisse, Illazioni su una sciabola, Inferences from a Sabre, A different sea, Blindly, Three Plays, La storia non è finita. Etica, politica, laicità, Blameless, Istantanee, among others.
The dialogue between these two great writers, Vargas Llosa and Magris —led by famous PBS-TV anchor Charlie Rose— was attended by more than 700 people at Georgetown University's main auditorium.
The event was organized by the university's Italian Research Institute, Department of Italian, in collaboration with the Embassy of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute.
Hours earlier, Peruvian Ambassador to the U.S. Carlos Pareja offered a reception at the Embassy to the two writers, among other invitees.