BOOKS: MOUNTAINS OF TROUBLE

IN HIS FINE NEW NOVEL, MARIO VARGAS LLOSA RETURNS TO THE LITERARY LANDSCAPE WHERE REALITY AND SURREALITY ENTWINE

AT ONE POINT A CHARACTER IN Death in the Andes (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 276 pages; $24) finds himself in a government office in Lima "facing a photograph of the President of the Republic, who seemed to look at him sardonically from the wall." It is an odd moment for the reader because, had recent history turned out differently, that photograph might have been of Mario Vargas Llosa, who ran unsuccessfully for the presidency of Peru in 1990. Of course, had Vargas Llosa won that election, he almost certainly would not have had the time to write Death in the Andes.

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