Mario Vargas Llosa of Peru has won the 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature. He is the first South American to win the prize in almost thirty years.
Vargas Llosa, age 74, has published both fiction and nonfiction in a career lasting almost fifty years. He first won international acclaim with his second novel, The Green House, published in 1965. Other well-known works include the quasi-autobiographical Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (1977), and The Feast of the Goat (2000), a novel about the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic.
In addition to being a writer, Vargas Llosa has been very engaged politically over the decades, even to the extent of running for the presidency of Peru in 1990 (he lost in a runoff to Alberto Fujimori). He has moved rightward in his political views over the years, going from being an ardent supporter of the Cuban revolution, for example, to being more of a supporter of capitalism, and an opponent of authoritarian regimes of both the Left and the Right.
Vargas Llosa has kind of an odd connection to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the last South American to win the Nobel Literature Prize (in 1982). An early admirer of Garcia Marquez -- even writing a book about him -- Vargas Llosa ended up feuding with the Colombian writer, and reportedly punched him in the face in 1976. The two have evidently not spoken to each other for more than thirty years.
Heidi Johnson-Wright of January Magazine interviewed Vargas Llosa in 2001; the article can be found here. Also, the New York Times has a page of links to articles in that publication by and about Vargas Llosa.
Meanwhile, I continue to hold out hope that the Nobel committee will give a long overdue Literature Prize to Margaret Atwood. Maybe next year.