From the Publisher
“Mario Vargas Llosa has done an inestimable service to the memory of a great man.” John Banville, The New York Review of Books
“This vibrant reimagining of history is also a brilliant exploration of conflicting moral claims. Who are the oppressors? Who are the truth-tellers? As always, Vargas Llosa remains a fiendishly clever teacher.” The Washington Post
“At once a meticulously researched fictional biography and a clever psychological novel.” The Economist
“Vargas Llosa is a masterful writer.” The Miami Herald
“The Dream of the Celt fully succeeds in capturing the complexity of the man....Vargas Llosa has produced an epic apologia for this most sympathetic of traitors.” The Daily Beast
The Nobel Prize laureate turns to the early 20th-century Irish rebel Roger Casement's insurrection and execution in a saga typical of the author's renowned storytelling style.
The Washington Post
…a delicate performance by Vargas Llosa…This vibrant reimagining of history is also a brilliant exploration of conflicting moral claims. Who are the oppressors? Who are the truth-tellers? As always, Vargas Llosa remains a fiendishly clever teacher.
Luis Alberto Urrea
A Nobel Prize for Literature winner (in 2010) and one-time Peruvian presidential candidate, Vargas Llosa chronicles the life of Roger Casement, an Irish patriot and human rights activist, or “specialist in atrocities,” who was executed by the British in 1916 after the Easter Rising, which heralded the beginning of Irish independence. This is a meticulously researched book about a deeply complex man; Vargas Llosa’s admirable powers as a writer of fiction are apparent when he slows the pace of the narrative to allow access to Casement’s thoughts as he languishes in prison, waiting to hear whether his stay of execution has been granted. Vargas Llosa (The Bad Girl) is at his best writing as a novelist rather than biographer, but the unnecessarily complex narrative structure in which Casement’s life story unfolds at a galloping pace achieves neither the best of biography nor the best of fiction. Readers will wish that the book was either one or the other. Agent: The Carmen Balcells Agency. (June 12)
The Celt in question is Sir Roger Casement, who advocated on behalf of oppressed natives of the Congo and of Amazonia, but when he turns his attention to the Irish Troubles in 1916, the British feel he's gone too far, so he's caught, tried and executed. Originally published in 2010 and now lyrically translated, the novel focuses on the three major stages in Casement's life. As a young man he travels to the Congo, and while at first he's enamored with the European "mission," he soon has a Conrad-ian epiphany about the exploitation of rubber workers, who are brutalized beyond belief. (Conrad, in fact, briefly appears in the novel.) Casement's report about this exploitation garners him much acclaim in England. Next he turns his compassionate vision toward Amazonia, that section of Peru in which the indigenous peoples are once again being savagely misused by a multinational corporation--in this case the Peruvian Amazon Company, whose board, Casement discovers, comprises a number of prominent Englishmen, but in his role of British consul he courageously speaks out against the atrocities he finds there and once again publishes a devastating report; this time his findings ironically lead to his being knighted by the British. In the final phase of his life--he died at the tragically young age of 51--he supports independence for his native Ireland, naively working with the Germans during World War I against an England he now hates. At the Easter Rising he's caught and four months later is executed at Pentonville Prison in London. Although politically and morally committed to his causes, Casement feels poor in love, for his "relationships" consist solely of fleeting and furtive homosexual liaisons. Vargas Llosa speculates that the so-called Black Diaries Casement left are authentic but that he uses them to record sexual fantasies as much as sexual reality. A dazzling novel of great intensity and power.