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Mario Vargas Llosa dedicates latest novel to Patricia, his cousin and ex-wife

Set in the Nobel laureate’s native Peru and written while he was still with Isabel Preysler, ‘Le dedico mi silencio’ will be released on October 26

Vargas Llosa Prima Patricia Isabel Preysler
Mario Vargas Llosa at the Cervantes Institute in Madrid; April 2023.SOPA Images (LightRocket via Getty Images)

“To Patricia” reads the inscription of Le dedico mi silencio — I give you my silence, in English — the new novel by Mario Vargas Llosa. Patricia Llosa is both his cousin and ex-wife. The forthcoming book by the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature will be available in bookstores on October 26. It’s a heartfelt tribute to Peruvian music — waltzes, “marineras,” polkas, and “huainos” — as well as the rich folklore of his country. The novel also eloquently conveys Vargas Llosa’s love for his wife of 50 years. A member of the writer’s inner circle said the dedication was “a thoughtful and fitting gesture,” but demurred from putting labels on the couple’s current relationship. “It’s not my place to say whether their relationship is romantic or not, but the important thing is that the family, estranged for seven years, is back together.”

When the Alfaguara publishing house revealed the title of the new novel, some gossip columnists speculated that Vargas Llosa was sending a hidden message to Isabel Preysler, with whom he had a seven-year romance. The relationship ended in late 2022, said Preysler in an interview with Hola! magazine. While many of his books contain autobiographical elements — Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (1977), The War of the End of the World (1981) and A Fish in the Water (1993) — this book is not about his relationship with the so-called tabloid queen. Instead, it focuses on one of his other passions: Peru’s autochthonous music. “Ironically, Mario actually wrote most of the book while he was with Isabel,” said one of his close friends. The writer spent the last three years of his relationship with Preysler writing this novel, which, friends say, might be his final work of fiction. “He’s currently working on a lengthy essay about Jean-Paul Sartre, which will likely take another year or two to complete. Since he’s nearly 88 years old, it’s unlikely that he will write any more fiction because novels typically take him two or three years. By the time he completes the Sartre essay, he will be almost 90. Could he write another novel? Who knows? With him, you never know.”

Mario Vargas Llosa and Patricia Llosa at an awards ceremony in Madrid; 2011.
Mario Vargas Llosa and Patricia Llosa at an awards ceremony in Madrid; 2011.Europa Press via Getty Images

Although people close to the Vargas Llosa family are reluctant to discuss the relationship between the writer and his ex-wife, the cousins are undeniably close. They spent the entire summer together in southern Italy, Marbella, and Salzburg. After the release of Le dedico mi silencio, they plan to travel to their home in the Dominican Republic, before celebrating Patricia’s birthday in Lima on November 22 and spending Christmas there with their children and grandchildren.

In March, Vargas Llosa made a short visit to Lima to finalize his novel. Patricia Llosa warmly welcomed the family into the apartment they shared for so many years. Álvaro, their eldest son, posted a photo on social media of the writer working in his former office with a view of the Pacific Ocean. That gathering took place shortly after Vargas was inducted into the Académie Française in a ceremony attended by his ex-wife and children. The family summit in Paris marked the beginning of a gradual reconciliation. Since then, the two have resumed some of their old routines, including stays at their penthouse on Flora Street in Madrid and their apartment in Paris. They have also escaped to some of their favorite places to unwind, like the Buchinger clinic in Marbella and the Salzburg Music Festival. Their upcoming trip to the Dominican Republic in November seems to be another step towards restoring their relationship.

In early February, the Vargas Llosa family gathered at their Paris apartment. From left: Isabella Reich, Stefan Reich, Morgana Vargas Llosa, Álvaro Vargas Llosa, Nada Chedid, Gonzalo Vargas Llosa, Mario, Patricia, and Anaís Reich.
In early February, the Vargas Llosa family gathered at their Paris apartment. From left: Isabella Reich, Stefan Reich, Morgana Vargas Llosa, Álvaro Vargas Llosa, Nada Chedid, Gonzalo Vargas Llosa, Mario, Patricia, and Anaís Reich.MIGUEL E. MARTINEZ COLIN

Mario Vargas Llosa and Patricia Llosa separated in 2015 after the writer’s affair with Isabel Preysler was revealed. They had recently celebrated 50 years of marriage at their favorite restaurant in New York. According to the Abc newspaper, Patricia sent a letter to Isabel Preysler shortly afterward, forewarning that her husband would eventually return home. True to her prediction, Mario did indeed reenter Patricia’s life eight years later.

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