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The Discreet Hero

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  4,409 ratings  ·  514 reviews

Felicito Yanaque has raised himself from poverty to ownership of a trucking business. His two sons work for him. He receives a threatening letter demanding protection money. The police don't take him seriously, Felicito refuses to pay up and gets sucked into a nightmare. He becomes a reluctant public hero. Then his mistress is kidnapped, and matters become seriously com

Kindle Edition, 337 pages
Published March 31st 2015 by Faber & Faber (first published June 2013)
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Linda Abhors the New GR Design They're her husband's. They're in bed at the end of the day, reflecting on the day and the kid (she's much younger and they were both afraid that the …moreThey're her husband's. They're in bed at the end of the day, reflecting on the day and the kid (she's much younger and they were both afraid that the boy wouldn't accept her). Other people's sex lives turn the husband on, like his erotica collection. And the verb that the kid used "the only woman in the world I like is you, stepmother." is a verb that, in Spanish when used with people, carries sexual connotations. If you read "In Praise of the Stepmother" this book is so much more creepy.(less)

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Isabel Allende
May 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a matter of faith, I read everything that Vargas Llosa writes and I am almost never disappointed. Set in Peru, this is a story of blackmail, betrayed love, courage and fate.
Nov 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art, peruvian
Two stories alternate chapters.

In one, the owner of a trucking company is being extorted by presumptive gangsters. In the next, we meet again Don Rigoberto, his wife Lucrecia and their precocious son Fonchito. That trio in the latter storyline will be familiar to readers of Vargas Llosa. They starred in the steamy In Praise of the Stepmother and The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto. There was less steam here, not even a mention of what went on in those two volumes. But the characters were otherwise
Michael Finocchiaro
What a long, strange but wonderful trip it has been. This is the last of MVL's fiction novels that has been translated into English (I hope that Cinco Esquinas will be translated soon) and it was a great read. Back in The Green House and later in Who Killed Palmino Molero and Death in the Andes, we met Lituma, a policeman with relatively bad luck but a big soul and here again he plays a role in the tale. From In Praise of the Stepmother and The Notebooks of Don Rogoberto, we had the pleasure of ...more
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa’s latest book came out, I knew I wanted to read it. I am a readers’ advisor, but have never read anything by Vargas Llosa, who was honored in 2010 with one of the greatest awards in literature. It was time for me to check out one of the most significant writers in Latin America.

After reading The Discreet Hero, I plan to read this great author’s other books. Reviewers have praised this newest novel, but said his earlier works are even better. He truly is a m
Dec 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A solid outing by Llosa, very much on a domestic scale - not as frenetic as "Aunt Julia ...", not as chilling as "The feast of the goat" and not as apocalyptic as "War of the end of the world".

The book is played out in the lives of two businessmen, who are tested in different ways. Each could capitulate under the weight of pressure, including friends and family urging them to play it safe, but they find a stubborn streak out of sheer bloodymindedness and a refusal to compromise on their princip
Sep 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am so sad I finished it.
Well, Mario Vargas Llosa didn't disappoint. In his unique style, he delivered, once again.
I won't go into details, because you really need to read this book. It's not an action-packed novel. It's a novel that, little by little, peels the layers of the Peruvian society in times of neoliberal politics, new commercial successes and old mentalities that often clash with the fast-paced world. The weaving of all these components into one seemingly regular story about regular
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Having read his earlier experimental novels and getting lost in some of them, this book—written in the sunset years of the Nobel winning author—proceeded at a more leisurely pace, was understandable (after I got past the scene-splicing that Llosa is noted for), and even tied up all loose ends for us in the end.

This is primarily a tale of relationships between fathers and sons, of the love between them, or the absence of it, and the consequences of neglect. It is a tale of the wages of business s
Billy O'Callaghan
I have long been a fan of Peruvian prose master, Mario Vargas Llosa, and will happily read anything he cares to write. That said, his work in recent years has – in my opinion – fallen short of the greatness he achieved with novels like 'Conversation in the Cathedral', 'The War at the End of the World' and 'The Feast of the Goat'. His wilder ambitions seem to have waned, and what we tend to get now are glimpses of the genius at work, rather than sustained achievement.
The first three quarters of '
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
With a bit of patience, this turns out to be an entertaining story about fathers and sons, and about men standing up to intimidation. Its title is oddly chosen; calling anyone in the book heroic seems a bit of a stretch, and certainly no one is discreet.

Felicito Yanaque is a businessman in Piura, Peru, who receives letters demanding protection money but refuses to be bullied. Meanwhile, in Lima, Rigoberto is on the verge of retirement when he’s drawn into his boss’s scheme to disinherit a pair o
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great Llosa novel, it is a typical one - the Llosa dialogues, the intertwined stories, the south american magical world. Solid stories. I also listened to the peruvian singer that is mentioned in the bool a Cecilia Barraza - yes, you get that southamerican flair when you hear her.
So, who is the hero? This question will torment me some time.
If somebody reads this novel, i will be glad to talk to you about it.
Geoffrey Benn
May 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
“The Discreet Hero,” Mario Vargas Llosa’s latest novel, is a beautifully rendered tale of stubborn resistance set in modern-day Peru. There are two major story lines – one involving the owner of an insurance company who remarries to avoid giving his business to his parasitic children, and the other involving the owner of a transport company who is resisting a gang of blackmailers. Both men fight throughout the story to resist the push to take the path that would be easier but would result in com ...more
Intriguing pair of stories about standing up for what is right even when it is against common practice and good sense. My biggest complaint is that Llosa would interpolate scenes from different times without warning, sometimes in the middle of a conversation. As I got used to this, I could see that they were (perhaps) recollections of events & conversations that occurred earlier that the 'present' had evoked but it was disconcerting and confusing. ...more
Burak Isyar
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent Latin American story about fathers and their sons..
Jun 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is about a special kind of heroism - not the one where you go out, save others and get celebrated. It's about preserving your dignity even if it means losing everything else.
There are two story strings that are told in turns. First they evolve seperately, but end up connected to each other.
I liked the moral concept of the book and how much love and detail was put in the characters and their back-stories.
Robert Blumenthal
This is my first foray into the world of Mario Vargas Llosa, the celebrated Nobel-Prize-winning author from Peru, and it was a wonderful pleasure. I often find Nobel Prize winners to be more intellectual and political than emotionally compelling, and Llosa's latest novel is very much that way. I enjoyed the story, characterizations, and comments on the political and social climate in Peru. There are two separate stories (three, actually) involving two different incidents: one involving a wealthy ...more
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The discreet hero, being Llosa's penultimate novel so far, proves that one can write in really good level despite being someone of an advanced age. First published at 2013 means that the writer should have been probably older than 70 if not more when he finished it. I take my hat off, congratulations Mr Llosa, once more you managed to to show me how pleasant and beautiful is reading.

Now, being honest, this is not one of his best, can't be compared with some masterpieces he wrote and I have read
I am a big fan of Mario Vargas Llosa, who is a Nobel laureate. He is a prolific writer from Peru and is one of the most accessible modern Latin American authors. His fiction is often hilarious, and translates well across cultures. My favorite is Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter. He is also responsible for quite serious literature that addresses political and social issues in his part of the world.

This novel follows two contemporary fellows who experience personal crises that lead to an intersecti
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
This book drew me in. A depiction of the ever-present strangeness within the ordinariness of everyday life in Lima, Peru, and the provincial city of Piura, with themes of filial impiety, religion and irreligion, and the everydayness of the supernatural, it's an easy, lively read.

I almost gave it five stars, but grump that I am, I had some cavils with the narrative structure and the occasional ungainliness of the diction in the translation. But who cares in the end? It's a good read and a slice
Shaimaa Ali
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First book in 2017 :-)

Llosa is one of my favorite writers.. I guess I keep repeating that, And this time he didn't fail me!
Two different stories, two different worlds that came to a one ending. His favorite characters from previous works .. "Don Rigoberto & Dona Lucrecis " on one side, on the other, " Sergeant Lituma & Captain Silva" .. One party trying to defend their employer& friend from the greediness of his twins, the other trying to solve a crime committed by the son of a big merchandise.
I was underwhelmed, this telenovela is not what I'd expect from a Nobel laureate. It seems to me that The Discreet Hero is Vargas Llosa's attempt to unite several characters from other novels so that people will think he is a brilliant storyteller. The novel itself wasn't bad, but it wasn't brilliant.

Like Mexican telenovelas (which is ironic, because Vargas Llosa bashes them somewhere in the book), one of the stories begins with a Cinderelly plot, and the other with a more solid plot of extortio
Nelson Wattie
Oct 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know of no living writer more varied in technique, mood, setting, theme and style than Mario Vargas Llosa. Tragedy, comedy and political drama are three of his modes. Haiti, Tahiti, France, Cuba, Ireland and the Southern Pacific are some of the regions he has covered, making him a literary exponent of globalism. But he began in his homeland, Peru, with The Time of the Hero, and has returned there repeatedly until now, at 79, he is again writing of that familiar territory, while the perfect ble ...more
Mar 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The Russian literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin believed that the novel was a showcase of the mundane and he also believed that great writers, such as Doestoevsky, were capable of something called "polyphony" which was a showcases of a multitude of voices in a writers works. I believe, after reading The Discreet Hero, that Bakhtin would have lauded the work of Mario Vargas Llosa as well. I was not familiar with the Nobel laureate before reading this novel, and in fact was quite annoyed with the no ...more
Nov 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an enjoyable read that unravels so nicely that it kept me turning the pages. Vargas Llosa brings back two of his more notable characters, Sargent Lituma and Don Rigoberto (his wife Lucretia and their nutty son Fonchito). I was a little worried about writers who do this but he positioned them astutely into the story. Rigoberto shines but is often foiled by his wise-cracking son. One lament is that I had wished Lituma surfaced more more prominently.

However the book's other main character
Kartik Sharma
Oct 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first book by the author and to say that I found it amazing would be an understatement. I am huge fan of fiction and The Discreet Hero is an epitome of brilliant fiction. Two parallel stories, in alternate chapters, each as riveting as the other. Switching between the stories turned out be really hard - which a testament to Mario Vargas Llosa's great writing. I wanted to continue reading about Don Yanaque's predicament and was simultaneously kicked about reading what happened with Don Rigober ...more
Apr 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok, I did not read this in Spanish, but couldn't find the English translation on Goodreads. This was my first time reading this Nobel Prize winning author and really enjoyed this novel. In the novel, fathers have problems with their sons. One man's son seems to be talking to an imaginary man perhaps the devil. Another father who has built a successful business from the ground up is being threatened and asked to pay protection money. Another man hears his sons at his bedside following his heart a ...more
Nov 01, 2016 rated it liked it
The book has neither the weightiness of The War at the End of the World nor the pyrotechnic humour of Tia Julia or The Special Service. Some plot devices are contrived, others left unresolved and there is an aspect of pulp fiction. Nevertheless, this is MVL's most gripping enjoyable readable novel in 20+ years.
The old MVL: I'm glad we haven't lost him.
Alec Rill
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mario is one of my favorite writers and a truly amazing man. I just heard him talk to the NYC Public Library and I love him even more. I read his book Pantaleon y Las Visitadoras when I was a student in the Industrial Engineering faculty and the way he describes the efficiency system the military in Peru implemented to satisfy the manly needs of the soldiers was my inspiration to forever be efficient in whatever I do.... like a good soldier in the Peruvian army.....
Jul 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: latin-america
Weird combination of very good and readable and sort of pointless/unmemorable.
Julie Hoegh - Editor at Bookstoker
Peruvian Nobel Prize Winner Mario Vargas Llosa is a rarity amongst Nobel Prize winners: a funny, accessible writer. I really enjoyed his erotic novel In Praise of the Stepmother, a tale of sexual morality and loss of innocence. His latest book The Discreet Hero is a page-turning mystery story written with humour and sensuality. It probably won’t be considered Vargas Llosa’s most important book, but it’s definitively worth the read.

The Discreet Hero is the parallel stories of two seemingly unconn
Bookcase Jim
Apr 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a delightful read. The Discreet Hero was my introduction to Vargas Llosa. Now that I've read it, I'm disappointed that it took so long to pick up one of his books.

Here are some of my impressions, in lieu of a classical review.

Imagine a South American soap opera. Now imagine that it's written by one of the world's foremost living writers. In a nutshell, that's The Discreet Hero. Family histories, crime, drama, and social commentary are all brought together masterfully. The soap opera pa
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Mario Vargas Llosa, born in Peru in 1936, is the author of some of the most significant writing to come out of South America in the past fifty years. His novels include The Green House, about a brothel in a Peruvian town that brings together the innocent and the corrupt; The Feast of the Goat, a vivid re-creation of the Dominican Republic during the final days of General Rafael Trujillo’s insidiou ...more

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