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Death in the Andes

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  6,203 ratings  ·  563 reviews
In an isolated community in the Peruvian Andes, a series of mysterious disappearances has occurred. Army corporal Lituma and his deputy Tom�s believe the Shining Path guerrillas are responsible, but the townspeople have their own ideas about the forces that claimed the bodies of the missing men. This riveting novel is filled with unforgettable characters, among them disenf ...more
Paperback, 322 pages
Published 1996 by Faber and Faber (first published 1993)
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Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spanish-american
🎼 The Hills Are Alive... etc.

According to one of Vargas Llosa’s principal characters, “life in Peru has its dangers, honey.” And this is certainly the case during the nearly four decades of insurgency by the Maoist Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path. This conflict forms the background of much of Vargas Llosa’s work, but is a central theme of Death in the Andes.

Vargas Llosa frequently uses the peculiar geography of Peru to great effect. In The Green House, for example, he emphasizes the extreme
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Mar 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
A haunting and disturbing story, skillfully presented, but I hold Mr. Llosa to higher standards after including his sprawling, philosophical War Of The End of The World on my favorites list. I learned a lot now about modern Peru, which is why I picked the book up in the first place, but I also had issues with the muddled dialogue, with the slow pace, continually fragmented by flashbacks, and with a perceived bias against the Sendero Luminoso guerilla, who received an extremely harsh treat
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
The story centres around two policemen posted to a remote region of the Peruvian Andes near Naccos. They are investigating a series of disappearances in a road construction camp and amongst the comuneros, (Indians from the traditional community) where there is a discouraging lack of evidence or support. The missing are a mute, an albino, and the foreman of the construction site. Is this significant in itself as somehow undesirables were targeted or is it a coincidence that can potenti
Michael Finocchiaro
This was an excellent story with great characters and captivating narration. Lituma is now stationed in the mountains in Naccos (after being ejected from Piura after Palomino Molera and needs to solve a triple homicide which superficially looks like it may be the work of the Sendero Luminoso terrorists (whom we also gets glimpses at during the book through some of their victims). The pace never lets up and we also are treated to local folklore like in The Storyteller which plays an important par ...more
Mar 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
So now I am really getting a feel for the Peruvian maestro (have had the pleasure to read five of his like 20 or so books). "Death in the Andes" is a horror story made comical, like most Latin American tragedies ("Before Night Falls," or "Kiss of the Spider Woman", or more recently, M.V.L.'s "The Feast of the Goat") which persist hard in trying not to be overtly sad. Thematically rich, with tragedy piled atop tragedy, the narrative flow is invigorating, forcing the reader to forget all about air ...more
Jun 10, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I kept reading this...and reading this … and I kept thinking 'when's it going to get better or interesting?' And I have given up - page 209. There is none of the magic that I found in 'Who Killed Palomino Molero?' - which is strange because we have the same character of officer Lituma - now Corporal and a similar junior - Tomasito. We have the Andes; we have political background - which is violent, nasty, sickening - and yet because the violence is carried out to characters who are not participa ...more
Oct 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Erika
Shelves: fascinating
This book doesn't just tell a story. It is told through stories, through storytelling, and this makes all the stories of Peru, even those beyond the confines of the page, one story. Mario Vargas Llosa doesn't give a damn about time or space or traditional plot; he doesn’t care about making the reader comfortable or making reading easy; he cares about connections, and he makes them however he damn well pleases.

Death in the Andes follows three stories (for a while). The first follows Corporal Litu
May 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Vargas Llosa gives us a Shining Path potboiler. Maoism and folklore shuffle across the Peruvian stage. Intriguing use of myth.
May 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Two Peruvian police officers, both outsiders, are stationed in a remote post in the Andes. While they investigate the disappearance of 3 men a terroristic organization operates in the area. In the cold lonely nights, the younger officer (Tomasito) tells the older officer (Lituma) his love story which is how he came to be assigned to this dying mining town. They frequent a bar where the story of its owners weaves in and out.

Like Llosa’s Conversation in the Cathedral, the text is hard to follow.
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
I started reading this book before I went to Peru, and I was connecting with it. It is totally possible that I was distracted by trip preparations, etc. I picked up the book again at the end of my trip (when my Kindle, which had been malfunctioning on vacation, miraculously started working again.) And then I got totally absorbed. The landscapes of Peru were brought to life, and the mystery sucked me in!
Jun 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have enjoyed everything I have read by Vargas Llosa, so I am biased. This was a great read, I didn't want to put it down. I was quite surprised that it had a (relatively) happy ending, considering the whole novel is about the death and destruction brought on by terrorism and corrupt government.

I first read this novel in Spanish in June 2008. Three years later, I am reading it in English, planning to teach it in a freshman seminar, and trying to read it through the eyes of an 18-year-old.

Dec 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The old mingles with the new in Vargas Llosa’s Peru. Human sacrifices and spirits of the mountains, road building, terrucos – uncompromising, ruthless and cruel freedom fighters coming out of nowhere and conducting their cruel people trials, and superstitious mountain people (serruchos) are the backdrop for the plot and its main characters. Captain Lituma and his adjutant Tomasito, people from the new, more modern world, are posted in a remote mountain village to guard the road building against ...more
Robert Gammon
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Death in the Andes (Spanish title: Lituma en los Andes)

This novel by Peruvian Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa won the prestigious Planeta literary award in 1993. It is set in the midst of a virtual civil war that took place in his native Peru between 1980 and 2000, leaving 70,000 people dead. The conflict was between the Shining Path maoist guerrillas and the Peruvian armed forces and anti-maoist peasant groups. Both sides were accused of terrible atrocities. Vargas Llosa was directly invo
Aug 13, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Steve by: Adam
Shelves: fiction
This was an odd duck. At first I wondered about the translation, but Grossman is an old hand, so I'm not laying the reading experience at her feet. I'm a big fan of Llosa's War of the End of the World, which is pretty much an epic. With this one, it seems he wanted shrink his focus -- but still have it be a big novel that says things. Whatever. The numerous flashbacks got on my nerves (in English they seemed clumsily handled), and at times even manipulative, thus draining important scenes of the ...more
I am ashamed to admit that I only recently (in my early 30s) "discovered" Vargas Llosa, and only read my first work by him in April (2013). My choice of "Death in the Andes" was twofold: first, I had been on a "mystery" binge for at least a year, devouring daily Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Jo Nesbo, Baldacci & the like, and was ready to move on to more substantial, less mind-numbing (written for entertainment value primarily) work--"Death in the Andes" seemed like a perfect transition, a more literar ...more
Oct 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As I prepare for an eventual visit to Peru -- perhaps next year sometime -- I find myself entranced by the novels of Mario Vargas Llosa. Last month, I read The Storyteller, about the natives of the jungles of Peru and their myths. Here, in Death in the Andes, we move up into the peaks of the Andes, at a place near Huancayo called Naccos, where the Santa Rita mine has given out and the road that is being built never seems to go anywhere.

It is the early 1990s, during the rural terrorism of the Sen
Oct 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
nearly done and it is just amazing. vargos llosa is god. seriously. what he packs into a short novella is astonishing. he's climbing the ranks of my favorite living writers. might have to read his entire body of work.
Kobe Bryant
Nov 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
I liked the fat mystic lady and her drunk husband
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: peru-literature
"Death in the Andes" is the first book I've read by Mario Vargas Llosa, the Peruvian Nobel Prize winner. It will not be the last.

The book follows Corporal Lituma (who I gather is the main character of a number of Llosa novels), a police officer assigned to a poor community in the midst of building a road high up in the Andes. The book is set during the days of terror of the Shining Path, a Maoist terrorist organization that killed many people in Peru primarily in the 1980s. Lituma is investigati
Jun 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Death in the Andes is ostensibly a mystery. Three men are missing in an impoverished Andean mining town. This is originally blamed on the Senderistas, a vicious Communist guerrilla group that terrorized Peru in the 80s. However, when Civil Guards Lituma and Carreno investigate, they suggest there may be older and more disturbing forces at work. But Llosa is not so interested in the mystery as much as to chronicle the history of violence in modern Peru as well as its ancient sources. There is no ...more
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The most fascinating part of the novel for me was the way Vargas Llosa plays with time and space as he tells various, intersecting stories. I have never experienced a writer who could accomplish telling a story in two different moments simultaneously in such a flawless way.

The novel begins with some gritty stories of naive travelers who fall victim to Sendero Luminoso revolutionaries and then transitions into an exploration of the more sinister elements of indigenous cosmovision, including the
Jan 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome book. Mario Vargas Llosa blends folk tales with a love story behind the political screen of Shining Path terrorism. How did he do it?

The love story (and its a great love story) emerges from the young guard Tomas who tells Corporal Lituma as he has investigates three mysterious disappearances of local people including the mute young man he befriended. Constantly threatening them is the terror of the Shining Path guerrillas who threaten to kill everything and everyone in their path. To ad
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'll admit to only reading about half of this, but it just never really engaged me. The basic set-up of two Civil Guard officers trying to investigate disappearances in the high Andes amidst the Shining Path rebellion and terror attacks should be extremely compelling. This novel is...not. The main characters barely seem interested in what's supposed to be the story and I could not cotton to their other ruminations. The scenes were Senderos murder people (and vicunas) are certainly striking, but ...more
Karlo Mikhail
Nov 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The charge that all revolutions are bound to devour its own children is one of the oldest and most common admonitions against the people’s collectively rising up to effect massive social transformations. First heard in the aftermath of the French Revolution with the Jacobins falling under their own Guillotines, this discourse has become common fare in the 20th Century.

Lumping together the “nightmarish” experience under all victorious and defeated revolutionary movements from the “Stalinist” show
Apr 14, 2019 added it
Shelves: south-america
I’m a fan of Vargas Llosa but I found this book difficult to get into, probably more due to my distracted thoughts than the book itself. About halfway through the magic started and it was a good read, even if it took me two weeks!
Ben Loory
Jun 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
wow, totally masterful book. never read any llosa before. it's a love story, a mystery, an historical investigation... a full statement on the human condition! god damn. all pretty focused, 275 pages... lots of great characters, great writing, tons of different points of view... and it all comes together beautifully at the end. i can see why this guy won a nobel prize! IMPRESSED

[pisco=brandy; pishtaco=mythical(?) cannibal boogeyman; terrucos=terrorist/rebels]

Like pisco, music helps us understand
Before I read this novel, my first one by Mario Vargas Llosa, I knew next to nothing about Peru. Now this has changed somewhat. If all of this is true, what is told in this story, Peru must be a very sad country.

Corporal Lituma and his helper Tomás are being assigned to a remote mining town in the Andes to investigate the mysterious disappearance of three people. The mine is now closed, and the workers, late descendants of the Incas, are now hired to build a road through the mountains. The only
Patrick McCoy
Death In The Andes (1993) is another fascinating novel by Peruvian master Mario Vargas Llosa. Llosa recounts several stories at once, the main overall story is the mysterious death of three people in a remote Andean village that is investigated by Peruvian Army corporal Lituma and his love struck deputy Tomas. Each night Tomas tells his story of his lost love, the beautiful and illusive Mercedes--who it turns out was from Lituma's hometown and the subject of yet another story. There is danger al ...more
Frank Kasell
To be honest, it was probably more of a 3.5 in my mind. The New York Times reviewer Smartt Bell sort of nailed my impression when he wrote, "'Death in the Andes' is fascinating without being fully satisfactory." The insider's perspective on the various faces of contemporary Peru were fascinating. The details on ancient Peruvian mysticism were fascinating (especially the whole pishtaco mythology...I'm glad I am aware of that legendry now). The overall structure with the present and past interming ...more
Mar 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: south-american, kobo
Death in the Andes is set in a remote temporary village in the mountains of Peru, the home of an unstable group of roadbuilders and local farmers, living in primitive conditions. There is a palpable sense of menace that grows throughout the book as everyone is terrified of revenge by the mountain gods, the threat of landslides, lightning strike and witchcraft. Meanwhile, reports of the atrocities carried out by the Shining Path terrorists close in. People have already disappeared and the sense o ...more
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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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“الموسيقى مثل البيسكو، تساعد في فهم الحقائق المريرة. وديونيسيو أمضى حياته يعلم الناس الموسيقى، ولكن ذلك لم يفد كثيراً، فالأكثرية يغطون آذانهم كيلا يسمعوا، أنا تعلمت منه كل ما أعرفه غن الموسيقى، غناء لحن هواينتو بحساسية، الخروج عن الذات، الانفلات خارجاً، الضياع في الأغنية حتى تشعر أنك الأغنية، وبأن الموسيقى تغنيك بدل أن من تغنيها، هذا هو طريق الحكمة.
قرع الأرض بالقدمين وقرعها، والدوارن وتزيين الشكل، تكوينه وتفكيكه دون فقدان الإيقاع، ونسيان الذات، والاستغراق حتى الشعور بأن الرقصة ترقصك، وأنها تغلغلت في أعماقك، وأنها هي التي تأمر وأنت تطيع، هذا هو طريق الحكمة.
أنت لم تعد أنت، وأنا لم أعد أنا، إنما جميع الآخرين، هكذا يتم الخروج من سجن الجسد، والدخول إلى عالم الأرواح بالغناء، بالرقص، وبالشرب أيضاً بالطبع، فبالسكر تسافر كما يقول ديونيسيو، وتزور حيوانك، تنفض عنك المخاوف، تكتشف سرك، تنسجم مع نفسك. أما بقية الوقت فتكون أسيراً، مثل الجثث في الضرائح القديمة أو أو في المقابر الحالية، تكون عبداً أو خادماً لأحد على الدوام. بالرقص لايعود ثمة هندي ولاخلاسي ولا سيد، لايعود ثمة غني ولافقير، ولا رجل أو امرأة، تمحي الفروق، ونتحول إلى أرواح: هنود وخلاسيون وسادة في الوقت نفسه. وليس الجميع قادرون على السفر بالرقص والغناء والشرب، وإنما السامون وحدهم يستطيعون ذلك، يجب توفر الاستعداد والتخلي عن الكبرياء والخجل، النزول عن قاعدة التمثال التي يعيش الناس منتصبين فوقها. فمن لاينوم أفكاره، ولاينسى نفسه، ولا يتخلى عن الزهو والغرور، ولايتحول إلى موسيقى عندما يغني، وإلى رقص عندما يرقص، وإلى سكر عندما يسكر، فأنه لن يستطيع الخروج من سجنه، ولا يمكنه السفر، لا يمكنه أن يزور حيوانه، أو أن يصعد حتى التحول إلى روح. إنه لايعيش، إنه حي وميت، وهو لاينفع كذلك لتغذية أرواح الجبال، فهي تريد كائنات عالية، متحررة من عبوديتها، هناك كثيرون لايمكنهم مهما سكروا أن يتحولوا إلى السكر نفسه، ولا يمكنهم كذلك أن يكونوا الغناء نفسه، أو الرقص حتى ولو زعقوا بأعلى أصواتهم، وأطلقوا شررا من الأرض بضربات أقدامهم.”
“as everybody in the Andes knows, when the devil comes to work his evil on earth he sometimes takes the shape of a limping gringo stranger. And” 2 likes
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